New York/Frankfurt — Two of Germany’s biggest regional banks have just appointed the first women to their management boards. It took them more than 100 years.

Deutsche Apotheker- und Äerztebank, which was founded in 1902 and now has assets of about €50bn, named Jenny Friese to oversee large corporate clients and markets, starting January 1. At Merck Finck, which traces its roots back to 1870, Linda Urban took over as COO in January.

“In finance, there are a similar number of women and men employed overall, but if you look up the career ladder, you will find fewer and fewer women,” Friese said. Yet “mixed teams have been shown to be more successful and creative in finding solutions”, she said, adding that most banks would benefit from such a strategy.

There is a lot of catching up to do. Germany’s 100 largest banks only have 11% women on their management boards, according to a study by think-tank DIW released earlier in the month, about half what other studies have estimated for the sector globally.

At Deutsche Bank, CEO Christian Sewing has cut the number of women on the management board to just one out of 10 members, meaning the percentage at the country’s most global bank is even lower than the average.

The two next biggest lenders, DZ Bank and Commerzbank, have one and two female executive board members, respectively. Germany’s fourth-largest bank, LBBW, earlier in January appointed Stefanie Münz as CFO, making it the only lender among Germany’s five Landesbanken to have a female executive board member.

While change has been slow in German finance, Merck Finck’s Urban thinks the time of all-male management boards is about to end, saying, “The more examples there are of women in management, the more women have the courage and bring themselves into play for such positions.” 


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