Women represented on all top Swiss company boards

Women, such as Swiss Railways chairwoman Monika Ribar, are still in a minority, but the gap is slowly closing. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

For the first time, all of Switzerland’s top 20 companies have at least one woman in the boardroom. The finding by consultancy firm Russell Reynolds shows the slow but steady progress towards gender equality in the management of Swiss firms.

This content was published on May 20, 2019 - 16:20

Russell ReynoldsExternal link found that 55 of the 206 board members are women, raising the proportion from 21% to 27% within two years. Last week the annual Schilling ReportExternal link from recruitment firm Guido Schilling said that women made up more than a fifth (21%) of supervisory board members at Switzerland’s 100 largest firms for the first time.

But the wider picture shows that more work needs to be done to bring about gender equality in the upper echelons of Swiss companies. In 2016, the government demanded female quotas of 30% for boards of top Swiss companies. But parliament remains divided on how to compel firms to bring in more women, leaving the issue in limbo.

Many politicians are reluctant to set mandatory quotas, unlike those imposed in other countries such as Germany and France in recent years.

Guido Schilling, boss of his eponymous firm, notes that 38% of new board appointments at the top 100 Swiss companies were filled by women last year. This compares to 25% the previous year. But he wants the pace to pick up.

“We want to achieve the target of 30% of women on boards of directors by 2022, as has been demanded of companies. Personally, I advocate that every vacancy in the next few years be filled by women,” he said on the release of the Schilling Report.

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