Continuing Trend in Supervisory Boards – More Women with Multiple Mandates

The percentage of women on executive boards of the 100 largest employers in Switzerland has, for the first time, reached the 10 % mark. The public sector even reaches a 20 % share of female top executives.
17. March 2020 - PD/MIG

According to the Schilling Report 2020 companies are strengthening the digitalization competence of their executive boards. Furthermore, the percentage of foreigners has levelled off.

The past year, the largest Swiss employers filled every fifth vacancy (21 %) on executive boards with a woman. It is particularly interesting that these companies promoted a majority (61 %) of the new female executive board members internally, thus demonstrating a growing awareness to increase gender diversity in management and showing that they have a solid talent pool of qualified women in middle management. The public sector continues to lead the way in gender diversity, once again filling 38 % of vacant top positions with women. On the supervisory boards of the 100 largest employers, the proportion of women has increased from 21 % to 23 %. If this trend continues, this share will hit the 30 % mark, required by the legislator, within 4 years.

Besides the positive developments regarding the proportion of women on all the relevant boards, the analysis of the schilling-report 2020 also shows that the percentage of foreigners (44 %) on executive boards has remained stable. Over two-thirds (70 %) of foreign executive board members had already been located in Switzerland or had been working for a Swiss company prior to taking up their current position. Among the new executive board members, there are a strikingly large number of qualified specialists in digitalization. The majority have taken up positions newly created by the companies.


Percentage of Women on Executive Boards for the First Time in the Double Digits

The percentage of women on executive boards of the 100 largest Swiss employers has grown from 9 % to 10 %. The companies appointed a woman to every fifth (21 %) vacant seat on executive boards (2019 18 %). Despite the increase of the female proportion, only slightly more than half (53 %) of the companies have women on their executive boards (2019 49 %). There is still a need for a clear commitment on the part of executive and supervisory boards. The SMI companies have filled every third vacancy with a woman, thereby increasing the percentage of women on their executive boards from 10 % to 12 % and underscoring their pioneering role.Classic Career Path – Internal Promotion Following last year’s peak of 64 %, the companies have again recruited the majority (61 %) of their new female executive board members internally. Their proportion even exceeds that of the men (59 %). «It is encouraging to see companies turn their focus inward for promotions and benefit from their investment in the talent development. This has advantages for both sides: The new executive board members are familiar with the culture, have already established a network, and they have a positive radiating effect internally as well as externally», carries out Schilling.


Public Sector is leading the way

The proportion of women employed as top executives in the public sector steadily rose again by 2 percentage points and for the first time reached the 20 % mark (2019 18 %). The public sector confirmed its efforts of the previous year and again filled 38 % of the vacancies in the top positions with a woman. The proportion of women in top positions is therefore twice as high as on executive boards of the private sector. The greater gender diversity in the public sector is, according to Schilling, due to the better reconciliation of career and family. «It is the key to a balanced gender diversity. Here the public sector points the way for the private sector.»Companies Strengthen Digitalization Competence of their Executive BoardsDigitalization is on everyone’s lips. The schillingreport 2020 illustrates the effect it is having on executive boards: 12 companies appointed executive board members who have proven digitalization expertise. 8 of them have taken up positions newly created by the companies. «This indicates that companies are attaching greater significance to digital transformation. I believe that the trend of embedding digital competence in executive boards will further intensify», says Schilling.


Share of foreigners stable

The share of foreigners on executive boards has dropped slightly from 45 % to 44 %. It has levelled off in this range for the past four years. Over two-thirds (70 %) of foreign executive board members had previously been working in Switzerland or employed in a Swiss firm before being appointed to their current position. As a result, these «nationals» already joined a Swiss employer in middle or upper management. «Foreign talent is an indispensable complement to Swiss junior staff. We must take care that the pipeline does not run dry», observes Schilling.


Continuing Trend in Supervisory Boards – More Women with Multiple Mandates

The percentage of women on supervisory boards has gone up from 21 % to 23 %. Nearly every third vacant seat in the boardroom (32 %) was filled by a woman (2019 38 %). If the share of women in Switzerland continues to go up 2 percentage points every year, it will exceed the 30 % mark, required by the legislator, in 2024 (31 %). The proportion of female board members who hold 2 or more mandates has increased from 7 % to 9 %. They now comprise 17 % of all board seats held by women. This percentage has been on the increase for the last 2 years: In 2018 it was at 10 %, 2019 at 13 %. «While men have long pursued professional careers as supervisory board members by serving on multiple boards simultaneously, women are now following suit», says Schilling and adds: «It will be interesting to see how the proportion of women with multiple mandates develops in the context of a potential women’s quota.»


Share of Women in DAX Supervisory Boards Rises

In the supervisory boards of DAX companies, the percentage of women has risen from 33 % to 36 %. Women were appointed to 38 % of the vacant seats on supervisory boards (2019 30 %). Since 2016, listed German companies have been obligated to maintain a 30 % quota of women in their supervisory boards. «Last year the companies’ efforts seemed to have lost momentum, as if once the quota had been reached, the work could be considered done. But now, we are seeing an upswing in the supervisory boards», comments Schilling. On the DAX executive boards, the share of women grew from 14 % to 15 %.The schillingreport 2020 surveys the 118 largest employers in Switzerland as well as the federal administration and all 26 cantons. Accordingly, 900 executive board members, 825 supervisory board members, and the 1027 managers in the public sector (department heads, general secretaries, cantonal chancellors) were included in the survey.



The complete report will be available in German, French and English online in mid-May at

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