“DIE FRAUENQUOTE” – A YEAR ON. AN UPDATE ON DIVERSITY IN UK AND GERMAN CORPORATES, 4 APRIL 2017

April 2017 Table Talk

Berlin

On 4th April 2017 Fidelio was delighted to co-host a seminar “‘Die Frauenquote’ – a Year on. An Update on Diversity in UK and German Corporates” in conjunction with the German-British Chamber of Commerce, the German British Forum and Nabarro LLP.

As a Board Development and Executive Search firm, Fidelio champions the business case for diversity in our work building highly effective Boards and leadership teams. To this end we were delighted to welcome a senior panel of Chairmen, Board Directors and for the first time a leading investor to explore what works, what more needs to be done, and how we can continue to move the dial on the critical issue of diversity.

Our speakers on the evening were:

We were also joined on the evening by an audience of ca. sixty Chairmen, Executive and Non-Executive Directors and advisors from Germany and the UK to explore the issue. A broad range of sectors were represented including property, automotive, bio-technology, industrial and financial services, as well as professional services, and non-profit.

Sir Philip Hampton, Chair, Hampton-Alexander Review provided the keynote speech, updating the audience on what has been achieved to date in the UK, as well as the objectives of the Hampton-Alexander Review. This was followed by an update on progress in Germany by Patricia Godfrey, Chair of the German-British Chamber of Industry & Commerce, incorporating an interview with Monika Schulz-Strelow, President, FidAR. (FidAR is a non-profit, non-partisan iniative in Germany formed in 2005 by senior women in business, science and politics to increase the number of women on German Supervisory Boards, and was a major driving force behind the introduction of the “Frauenquote” legislation in 2016.)

 

Key themes to emerge were as follows:

 

Conclusion

Fidelio was delighted to welcome a senior panel of Chairmen, Directors and Investors on 4th April to “‘Die Frauenquote’ – a Year on. An Update on Diversity in UK and German Corporates”, as well as a senior audience from the UK and Germany to explore what more can be done to move the dial on diversity.

This panel discussion provided an excellent forum to review progress that has been made to date; clearly diversity initiatives in both markets have delivered an increase in the percentage of female Non-Executive Directors and Supervisory Board members, and the business case for diversity is being communicated more visibly.

But there is also impatience at the pace of change and frustration at companies that are failing to adopt more ambitious targets. The importance of maintaining this momentum, while broadening the debate to focus on developing the female Executive pipeline emerged as a major theme. In the UK, the Hampton-Alexander Review sets a new 33% target for female representation at the Executive and direct report level. In both markets, strengthening the pipeline will require a combination of development initiatives, mentoring, reviewing hiring process and broadening talent pools.

Building on progress to date, and continuing to move the dial at both Board and Executive level is not an insurmountable task, but our panellists were clear that in order to achieve this business leaders must demonstrate commitment to ambitious targets, maintain a focus on the business rationale, while recognising the social justice arguments.

There is also a call to action for investors, who have an important role to play in driving the issue through dialogue with Chairs and company leadership. Investors wield tremendous influence and as Hermes demonstrated there is the opportunity for shareholders to collaborate with the companies they invest in to achieve considerably greater diversity while also enhancing performance.

Fidelio is committed to promoting diversity within both the German and UK markets and this panel discussion has made an important contribution to the debate. It has brought together business leaders from both markets, provided praise where praise is due, as well as highlighting where more needs to be done.  Importantly this second Frauenquote debate in London also created a framework for sharing what works and enabling world class corporates in the UK and Germany to learn from each other in pursuit of a common goal – increasing Board and leadership effectiveness through greater diversity.

For further information about Fidelio’s contribution to diversity through Evaluation, Development and Search or to receive the full summary of this panel discussion, please contact Emily Baker at Fidelio Partners.

 

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