Skip to Main Content

Management board composition

2020 Germany Spencer Stuart Board Index

2020 Snapshot

 3 %

of CEOs are women

 28 %

of members are foreign


years is the most common retirement age of members

Management board size

As in our 2018 analysis, the management boards covered in the Board Index have between two and 10 members; the average board size is unchanged at five. Vacancies are filled primarily internally: on average, 60% of management board members come from within the company. At DAX companies the percentage is even higher: 67% are “home-grown”.

Although the average board size of five has remained stable, the proportion of smaller management boards is rising, especially among DAX companies. Although DAX management boards are generally larger, at 6,2 persons, 38% of DAX boards report four to five members, reflecting a move away from the six or seven reported in previous years. The proportion of DAX companies maintaining six- or seven-strong boards has fallen to 33% in 2020, down from 43% in 2018.

This trend can also be observed in the full sample, albeit to a lesser extent.

Average size of management boards
Our perspective

Reasons for the general downsizing of management boards are diverse: efficiency gains, the advance of young, smaller companies with high market capitalisation, or in reaction to crisis.

Women on management boards

For the first time the Germany Spencer Stuart Board Index can record two female CEOs: Petra von Strombeck at New Work and Martina Merz at ThyssenKrupp. The percentage of women on management boards continues to rise; women account for 23% of new appointments (up from 17% in 2018).

Women on management boards (%)
2012 2014 2016 2018 2020
Total sample 6,6% 7,3% 9,0% 10,4% 13,1%
DAX 6,3% 6,6% 10,6% 13,1% 13,5%

Around 54% of the companies in the survey have at least one woman on the management board – 10 percentage points more than in 2018. However, none of the covered boards records more than two women, a situation unchanged for more than a decade. As management boards downsize, women account for one-third of members in 10% of the boards and one-quarter in 15% of the boards.

As stipulated by German Corporate Governance Code, 93% of the companies report target ratios for women on management boards. The proportions fall between zero and 40%. Those aiming at 30% and more account for 16% of the companies.

Foreign management board members

Foreigners account for 28% of management board members, rising from 25% in 2018. Among the DAX boards, 35% of members are foreign, up from 30% in the previous analysis.

68% of the foreign members are from other European countries and 32% come from countries outside Europe.

Average age and tenure

The average age of management board members has been stable for some years at around 54, as it has among the DAX boards in our survey. CEOs are slightly older, at 56 years on average.

Age limits

90% of management boards covered disclose information on age limits. Of these, 28% define retirement age as between 60 and 64 (2018: 41%). An age limit of 65 or older applies in roughly 66% of the companies (2018: 44%).

Age limit for management board members
2014 2016 2018 2020
Under 60 2% 0 0 0
60 to 64 43% 43% 41% 28%
65 plus 35% 35% 44% 66%
No age limit 20% 22% 15% 6%

The average tenure of management board members is 5,3 years — similar to the level seen in 2018. CEOs average slightly longer tenure of 5,6 years.

Only around 6% of companies in the full survey do not stipulate any retirement age for management board members. That proportion was considerably higher in the past: 20% in 2016 and 15% in 2018. It is likely that this shift is a response both to the recommendations of the German Corporate Governance Code and capital market pressure.

Our perspective

As management boards are not sheltered from ageing society, age limits are rising and continue to do so. However, this will have an impact on supervisory boards because most management board members do not assume external supervisory board seats until after retirement, the average age of supervisory board members will tend to rise in the future and their average tenure will decline.

External supervisory board seats

The appetite of management board members for external supervisory board seats continues to decline. Roughly 20% hold at least one external supervisory board mandate.

Management board members with ≥1 external supervisory board seat
Our perspective

Falling interest among management board members in assuming external supervisory board directorships is probably due to greater personal liability and heavier workloads associated with such mandates.