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Odd woman in

September 17, 2009

simone-bagel-trahSimone Bagel-Trah bucks the trend.  The number of women on German company top-level board posts — low to begin with in Europe’s largest economy – is dropping.  In steps Bagel-Trah. The slender blonde will become the first supervisory board chairwoman at a German blue chip. On Tuesday, she takes over the helm at glue-to-detergents maker Henkel .

 The doctor of microbiology will also head the shareholders’
committee which represents the Henkel family members who hold
about 52 percent in the creator of Persil detergent.

But the 40 year old great-great-granddaughter of the Henkel
founder is not the pioneer many would like to see in her.

“She basically helps to manage her own fortune. It’s a
family job,” said Hagen Lindstaedt, head of the Institute of
Management at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

“Male supervisory board members are typically made by the
company. With women, it’s different. Female supervisory board
members are often representatives of families or owners,” he
said and referred to Susanne Klatten as an example.

Klatten’s family owns almost half of German premium carmaker BMW
and about 92 percent in specialty chemicals maker Altana. She
sits on both companies’ boards.

Lindstaedt just published a research paper which found that
the number of women on German management boards has been on the
decline since 2005 and stood at 2.4 percent last year.

About 4 percent of shareholder representative on German
supervisory boards are women, the research also showed.

“Nothing has really changed over the past ten years,”
Lindstaedt said. “I would love to see more women joining the
board on a management ticket,” he said.

Which is why instead of a quota he suggested listed companies should publish
the top three management levels to raise transparency. Women
might find it more attractive to take a job at a company with a
particularly high proportion of women.

Lindstaedt is counting on women to vote with their feet and shatter the glass ceiling.

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