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Supervisory board overview

2020 Germany Spencer Stuart Board Index

2020 Snapshot


average number of supervisory board members

 35 %

of supervisory board members are women

Supervisory board size

Supervisory boards range in size from six to 20 members. The average size is around 14, unchanged from 2018. Prior to 2010, an average size of 16 had been constant for several years.

DAX boards are generally bigger on average, at about 16 members. Two factors explain this:

  • In the DAX, 40% of supervisory boards have 20 members, compared with 29% of boards in the total sample.
  • 90% of DAX companies are subject to co-determination, compared with 85% in the total sample.

Gender diversity

Parity-based co-determined boards of listed companies must comply with a 30% gender quota when electing members to the supervisory board. The quota became law in 2016 and must be met by the full board, unless either the shareholder or employee representatives side disagree prior to the election. This exception does not apply to the Societas Europaea (SE).

Among the total sample (including those companies not subject to the quota law), on average women occupy around 35% of full board seats (shareholder and employee representatives), three percentage points more than in 2018. Women account for at least 30% of seats on 90% of boards; when boards composed of 25% women are included, the proportion complying with the quota requirement rises to 94%.

The lowest recorded percentage of female board members in 2020 is 16,7%, applying to three companies, none of them subject to the quota law. The maximum percentage seen is 55,6%, at Zalando SE, which is also exempt from the quota law.

Rounding up according to mathematical principles is permitted by law.