Deutsche Bank sets implicit quota of 50% women for senior hires

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Deutsche Bank will have to appoint women to about 50 per cent of vacant senior management positions to meet its new 2025 gender target, a Financial Times calculation shows.

Germany’s largest lender last week promised to raise the share of women among its roughly 600 most senior executives to at least 30 per cent by 2025, up from 24 per cent now.

Only a limited number of these positions become vacant per year, however, so this target can only be met if the lender chooses female candidates in at least every other senior hire and promotion, according to the FT’s figures.

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“Greater diversity among senior executives is a business necessity for us,” Deutsche’s global head of human resources Michael Ilgner told the Financial Times. “This will make us stronger as there is plenty of evidence that more diverse teams achieve better results and adjust faster to a changing environment.”

Ilgner declined to comment on the FT estimate but said the new gender quota would not change the bank’s individual hiring decisions. “We will of course choose the candidate who is best suited for a position. We don’t want to make any compromise on quality.”

Germany’s largest lender announced the gender targets on Thursday alongside green finance targets as part of a wider push to make environmental, social, and governance principles “the new normal for Deutsche Bank”.

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The self-imposed quota is more stringent than the requirements under German law. Since 2016, 30 per cent of supervisory board seats must be held by women — a rule that Deutsche complies with. Earlier this year, new legal requirements that listed companies have at least one female management board member also came into force.

Deutsche has also announced targets to increase the share of female staff in middle management — which accounts for thousands of managing director, director and vice-president roles — from 29 per cent now to 35 per cent by 2025.

Ilgner acknowledged that meeting the goals would not be easy. “Our targets are ambitious but achievable if we implement the actions we have identified consistently,” he said, adding that the goals and close tracking of interim results would help increase awareness of unconscious biases.

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Measures include linking the pay of Deutsche’s senior managers to meeting those goals. “This has been part of several parameters that has influence on the variable compensation of our management,” said Ilgner, adding that Deutsche also supported female interns and graduates to “increase the talent pool”.

Deutsche’s gender quota is roughly in line with its peers. Goldman Sachs has a target to lift the share of female vice-presidents to 40 per cent by 2025, while HSBC has targeted 35 per cent of “senior leadership roles” to be held by women by the same year. Credit Suisse and Bank of America have not published gender equality targets.

Bayer, the German drugs and agrochemical group, said in February that it wanted to lift the share of women among its top 540 managers to at least 33 per cent by 2024.

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Ilgner acknowledged in a speech to investors on Thursday that Deutsche had so far “fallen short of the wider gender diversity goals we set in 2019”. Over the past three years, the share of women in the lender’s senior management has largely flatlined.

Deutsche’s ongoing restructuring had made it harder to achieve the targets, he said. In mid-2019, the lender announced it would axe 18,000 jobs by the end of 2022 in a partial retreat from investment banking. Since then, Deutsche has scaled back external hiring and cut the number of senior jobs significantly.

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