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Observatory on the Feminisation of Companies: new study

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A new SKEMA Observatory study on diversity in European banks.

​With Christine Lagarde taking up her position as the first woman president of the European Central Bank on 1 November, the SKEMA Observatory on the Feminisation of Companies wanted to measure gender diversity in 35 European banks and the number of women in governance positions within those banks over a period of ten years, from 2008 to 2018.

Formerly French finance minister (2010) and head of the International Monetary Fund (2018), Christine Lagarde has said that if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters, the finance industry would look quite different today.

The SKEMA Observatory on the Feminisation of Companies has analysed the situation for the 2008-2018 period.
Its director, Professor Michel Ferrary, has studied the 35 most prominent European banks to measure the feminisation of their boards, executive committees and headcounts in 2008. He has also observed the evolution from 2008 to 2018 in order to explore two questions: has Lehman Brothers become Lehman Sisters? If so, has this feminisation had an impact on the banks’ performance?

In 2008, the governance of the European banks was somewhat of an old boys’ club. The study shows a significant increase in the presence of women on their boards and executive committees between 2008 and 2018 (up 95.34%).

However, a great deal of research in the fields of sociology and management underlines the need to achieve a critical mass of 30% before a social group will influence an organisation. In 2018, only seven banks had more than 30% of women on their board and their executive committee.

Of the 35 European banks, only Banco Santander and DNB have a woman as chairperson, and not one has a female CEO.


For the full 2019 study by the SKEMA Observatory on the Feminisation of Companies.

Since 2007, on the initiative of its founder, Professor Michel Ferrary, the SKEMA Observatory of the Feminisation of Companies has also been analysing the evolution in the percentage of women on corporate boards, executive committees, in management, and in the headcounts of France’s 60 largest private companies, namely those making up the CAC 40 and CAC Next 20. It analyses the link between the feminisation of the different levels of hierarchy (boards of directors, executive committees, management and headcounts) within companies and the latter’s economic and financial performance (growth, profitability, stock price, etc.).

The research work conducted by the SKEMA Observatory on the Feminisation of Companies has been the subject of a number of academic publications and presentations at scientific conferences.

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