It is a historic moment when Marie Juchacz takes the floor in the Reichstag on February 19, 1919. "Gentlemen and ladies!", She begins – and has to stop again immediately. Because "cheerfulness", it says in the minutes, breaks out in the high house. There is “cheerfulness” because it is the first time after the introduction of universal suffrage for women that a member of parliament speaks here and she can also greet other “women”.
100 years later there is renewed excitement. On October 10, 2019, it was done: On this day, the technology group gets SAP as the first German Dax group a chairwoman of the board. The American Jennifer Morgan is to lead the IT company from Walldorf together with her German colleague Christian Klein. For Hasso Plattner, the co-founder and CEO of SAP, it is a key personnel decision, for Morgan it is an important step in his career – and for the German economy, the turning point.
The appointment of Morgan to the top of the German Dax group, which is the most valuable with around 150 billion euros in market capitalization, had the effect of the sought-after and found final chord of a year in which women came to power like never before in German history, or the power they had gained confidently and with more determination Used cheerfulness. In business, politics and society, the anniversary year saw 100 years of active and passive women's suffrage powerfully female – not only in Germany, but also in Europe and the world.
Of course, 2019 is also the year of Greta Thunberg, the climate activist. But not only. Never before have women held so much power, and never before have women “managed” to say goodbye to power.
There were therefore enough reasons and reasons for the Handelsblatt to declare this year the “Year of Women”. "At the end of 2019, I'm more optimistic about women than ever," says Jutta Allmendinger, sociologist and head of the Berlin Social Science Research Center.
Most notable is the rise of a woman whose career was actually considered over: Ursula von der Leyen. The 61-year-old has been the new EU Commission President since 6 December. She is not only the first woman in this role, she is also the first person from Germany to hold this most important post that the Europeans have to award after more than 50 years.
For the native of Lower Saxony, who was already the Federal Minister of Family Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Defense and has always stood up strongly for women in management positions in her offices, it is the culmination of her political career.
Women at the top in Europe
Another European institution has also been run by a woman since this year: the European Central Bank (ECB). Christine Lagarde has been the new top currency keeper in Europe since November 1st. The 63-year-old Frenchwoman followed the Italian Mario Draghi at the ECB's headquarters in Frankfurt. It was used to grind a previous bastion of male power like the Leyen. Previously, she was head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and minister of finance in France.
In her career, too, she has always stood up for women. And so the Bulgarian Kristalina Georgiewa followed her at the IMF in Washington.
With von der Leyen, Lagarde and the new, old super commissioner, the Danish Margarethe Vestager, who is now responsible for competition and digital matters in Brussels, three of the most influential positions in Europe are filled with women. The community is thus approaching a condition that former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice once wished for: "The day must come when it is no longer a surprise when a woman works in an upmarket position."
In Rice's home, women under US President Donald Trump have a hard time. However, it is they who make up the parliamentary opposition in the United States. Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are fighting for a modern America. Pelosi initiated the impeachment proceedings against Trump, and Ocasio-Cortez is the head and the voice of young, left-wing and colorful America. Both are not just role models, they also want to be some. Pelosi said: “I want women to recognize their power and value themselves. You have to understand that nothing has done politics as well as more female influence. ”
Jennifer Morgan is still at the top of the top German economy. But these and a few other personal details have the format that Germany can finally drop the status of the developing country in terms of women in management positions. At the traditional company Thyssen-Krupp After the departure of Guido Kerkhoff, the chairman of the supervisory board, Martina Merz, quickly took over as chairman of the board.
In the Commerzbank Bettina Orlopp is designated CFO, Sabine Schmittroth is HR Manager. And at the Haniel family group, Doreen Nowotne is to succeed Clan boss Franz-Markus Haniel as chairman of the supervisory board. It becomes the next handle-Supervisory board chief Simone Bagel-Trah only second chief controller of the German economy.
The new normal also includes the fact that women can fail and get out without malicious comments that fundamentally question women's abilities. Women now often follow women anyway. Prominent and self-confident graduates this year include Janina Kugel (Siemens), Sylvie Matherat (Deutsche Bank), Milagros Caiña Carreiro-Andree (BMW) and Hauke Stars (Deutsche Börse).
"The departure of women loses drama when you know that men leave much more often," says Wiebke Ankersen, managing director of the Allbright Foundation, which specializes in diversity. "Between September 2018 and September 2019, four women and 120 men resigned from the board of directors of one of the 160 listed companies. That is every fifth man and every 14th woman. "
The proportion of women in management positions in the German economy rose more strongly in 2019 than in previous years. A total of ten of the 160 companies listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange currently have more than one, namely exactly two women on the board: Aareal Bank. airbusAlliance Daimler. Deutsche Telekom. Fresenius Medical Care. KionSAP Siemens and Telefónica Germany, And the so-called "black list" of the Allbright Foundation for companies that have no board of directors is shrinking.
Women can also fail
According to observers, the turning point is no accident. "Public awareness of diversity has grown in recent years," says Ankersen of the Allbright Foundation. "The women who are in management positions and those who want to advance also demand equal opportunities more confidently and naturally than ever before."
The result: shit storms and boycotts, which mainly hit consumer goods and retail groups. So was the appointment of the new board members Zalando a secret boycott call from Siemens Personnel Director Janina Kugel preceded. At the "Female Future Force Day" of the women's magazine "Edition F" in Munich, she shouted: "There is a company that starts with 'Z'. You really don't have to go shopping if you want more women in management positions! ”The predominantly, but not exclusively, female audience cheered and applauded.
The episode shows: Something is also happening qualitatively. Young, well-trained women in particular are actively demanding their participation. One of the noisy drivers is Tijen Onaran. She is the founder and head of the rapidly growing women's network "Global Digital Woman" with more than 30,000 members worldwide. In her opinion, digitization in particular offers an opportunity for women. Her new book “The Network Bible” is something of a must-read among women hungry for advancement. Feminism has become their business purpose.
The other already more established women's networks in Germany are also growing. Two new regional groups have been founded in Cologne / Bonn and Zurich this year at the "Working Moms", an association of committed working mothers, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2019 and has more than 500 members. And the “Generation CEO” women's network not only took on 20 new leaders, it also confidently broke away from founder Heiner Thorborg. The approximately 200 management women emancipated themselves in a newly founded association. Headhunter Thorborg remains attached to "his ladies" as honorary chairman.
Merkel: "I'm still there"
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that was just the beginning! There is still a lot of room for improvement. Because one thing is clear – despite all the self-assured cheerfulness: Many women still have to ascend before equal participation in the German economy is achieved. It is not without reason that the Social Democratic ministers Franziska Giffey (family) and Christine Lambrecht (judiciary) recently asked for a quota for board members. And so in Germany there has been a statutory quota for women on supervisory boards since 2016 – but only for the committees of 105 listed and co-determined companies.
The Fidar Association (women on the supervisory boards) is therefore continuing to fight – to extend this quota to the supervisory boards of all listed and co-determined companies in Germany. The control bodies of 3500 instead of 150 companies would then be quoted. "And it shouldn't just be about fulfilling the quota, but about changing the corporate culture," says Monika Schulz-Strelow, long-time president of the now around 900 Fidar women and men.
In German politics, the topic of promoting women has become remarkably quiet. Perhaps this is also – paradoxical as it may sound – that many top jobs are now filled with women and an important goal has been achieved. The CDU is led by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the Greens, the SPD and the Left each co-chaired by Annalena Baerbock, Saskia Esken and Katja Kipping. And even the FDP has a general secretary with Linda Teuteberg.
And finally there is Angela Merkel. She is the most powerful woman in Germany, if not the world, for more than a decade. She doesn't see herself as a feminist. She leads the country with a steady hand, or as one would say in business: she does business as usual.
What remains to be said about the ambitions of the 65-year-olds – especially when it comes to promoting women – is what she herself explained on August 26 after her return from the summer break at the G7 summit in Biarritz with her typical mischievous smile: “I'm still there!"
More: Read in our dossier "People of the Year 2019" who has achieved great things this year, who has surprised or disappointed.
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