Women in Leadership Positions: Progress and Challenges – Insights from the AllBright September 2023 Report

By Martina Wiedemeier

The latest report from the AllBright Foundation, 'Alone at the Top', highlights the slow yet continuous progress in the representation of women on German executive boards. Since September 2022, the percentage of women increased by more than 3 percentage points, yet the majority of companies continue to appoint only one woman to their executive boards. This trend reflects a new norm that is insufficient for driving genuine cultural change within corporations.

A concerning aspect highlighted by the report is the absence of women in key leadership roles such as CEO and Chairperson of the Board.

Now there are 6 female chairpersons appointed in supervisory boards in the 160 listed companies (last year there were 8). [Image from the AllBright Foundation report]


Now there are 7 female CEOs in the 160 listed companies (last year there were 9). [Image from the AllBright Foundation report]


The career trajectories of male and female board members in companies continue to diverge significantly. Women are often recruited externally for board positions and are more frequently found in HR and Finance roles, while rarely ascending to the CEO position. In 2023, top corporate positions, including both CEO and Chair of the Supervisory Board, remain predominantly male-dominated, with even fewer women than in the previous year.

The proportion of women in the highest leadership positions has stagnated and slightly declined between September 2022 and 2023, with the number of female CEOs decreasing from 9 to 7, and female Chairpersons of the Supervisory Board from 8 to 6. This imbalance underscores the critical role of supervisory boards in appointing these positions. Chairpersons must base their leadership decisions on qualifications and potential, breaking the established cycle that leads to homogeneous appointments. To initiate change, it is essential to increase the number of women in committees responsible for the composition of supervisory boards and executive boards.

MU is founded on research and insight into what makes leaders successful in the workplace. It is concluded that success at work can be increased through ensuring leader decisions are made using a science-based, precisely tailored, quality assured and ethical way of working. The only basis for an employment decision is a factful match between an individual´s competencies – what they bring to work - and the requirements of the role, context and organisation results needed. Our advice to clients, candidates and our own employees is therefore based on this founding principle. MU has achieved a 94% accuracy rate in ensuring that the candidates they propose not only meet job performance expectations but often exceed them.

Furthermore, at MU, we are a proud partner to the “Women’s Board Award” in Switzerland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.  ‘Women's Board Award' calls for more diversity on boards, and strives to recognise the best female board members who have the potential to hold the board chair position in larger companies.

Read the complete AllBright Foundation report for an in-depth exploration of the topic. 

Are you interested to learn more? Reach out to Martina Wiedemeier, Pricipal Consultants, or any of our Experts