One advantage of being included in the Dax is more exposure. Money comes with attention as many investors prefer to buy shares in Dax companies they know. At the same time, being careful can also be a downside. Because the general interest means that companies can no longer cheat on their social responsibility.
Today, Monday, the first German index is experiencing a small revolution. With immediate effect, instead of 30, 40 companies are now represented in Dax. It quickly becomes clear: half of DAX’s newcomers are anything but exemplary, as they don’t have a single woman on the board. And this at a time when companies are waving the rainbow flag. In which parents tell their daughters that they can become whatever they want. And where women make about 80% of all consumer decisions.
Now, not all consumers Google search for the percentage of women on the board before deciding whether or not to buy the product from the company concerned. But when a company is in Dax, there is more and more discussion that women are not allowed to have a say in the most important decisions. At least some clients will feel that this company does not value women.
One of the five new DAX companies headed entirely by men is Porsche Holding, which owns the majority of the ordinary shares of the Volkswagen Group, which also includes the Porsche sports car brand of the same name. Porsche wants to move away from the image of “men in midlife crisis”, including a pink car paint called “Frozen Berry”. At the holding company, on the other hand, they don’t seem to be interested in women. Kochbox seller Hello Fresh is also a newcomer to Dax and certainly doesn’t want to do without women as customers, but apparently sees them as dispensable on the management floor. The other three male-led DAX promoters are Symrise, Sartorius and Brenntag. They all now have to live with being called by name. Whoever is in Dax is called by name.
The moral duty to represent society
Judith Wiese, who recently joined the Siemens board of directors, says her employer has a “socio-political mandate”. Siemens, which was previously without a woman on the board, must therefore do something for equality, including in its own management team, in which it is alone among the men. It is a laudable attitude. After all, business administration students watch Dax board members and want to sit in those chairs themselves. A moral duty to portray society derives from this role as a model.
But it’s not just a question of morals, it’s also a question of money. Studies repeatedly show that heterogeneously managed companies achieve greater business success. This may be because clients are more likely to feel addressed by them and also because mixed teams clearly make more balanced decisions. In a way, it’s even more annoying when five all-male DAX climbers ignore economics rather than moral duty. After all, immoral behavior is nothing new in the free market economy. In contrast, ineffective action shows how important it is for men to be alone. More important than profit.
After the expansion, the proportion of women on DAX boards rose from just 19 to 17.6 percent – a disgrace in international comparison. It doesn’t change the diversity of the German economy, but it becomes clear once again how bad things are for them.
Ultimately, the downside that the growing attention is bringing to newcomers to DAX is actually a plus. Obviously, businesses need public pressure to make decisions that are good for them anyway. Experience teaches: climbers in Dax almost always lower the quota of women, then adapt and bring women to the board. It’s good for society and individual businesses – whether for moral or economic reasons, or just because it’s annoying to always be called by name when it comes to a lack of accountability.