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In 2017, the Allbright Foundation analyzed all members of the boards of directors of German companies listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in their report "An Eternal Thomas Circle". They came to the conclusion that not only male leaders are the majority but that even the name "Thomas" is predominant. As of March 2017, 93 percent of the executive boards were made up of men, who were very similar in age, background and education. The German CEO prefers to surround himself with mirrors of himself: 5 percent of CEOs are named Thomas, and there are more board members named Thomas or Michael (49) than there are women altogether (46).

Why is it so difficult for women to reach these top positions?
Is promoting "Female Leadership" awareness suffice to bring more women into power?

First let’s clarify the terminology:
"Female Leadership" describes a leadership culture in which women play an equal role in leading organizations and companies. It is about promoting women in leadership positions and recognizing and utilizing their skills and experiences.

This form of leadership is based on the assumption that women bring different skills and perspectives than men and that this diversity can be an advantage for companies.

A 2020 study by McKinsey revealed that companies with higher gender diversity in leadership positions are more likely to be financially successful. Companies with high gender diversity in leadership positions were able to achieve an average of 25 percent higher profits than their competitors.

And here is the real key to success: today, gender diversity no longer means making a purely binary distinction between "male and female" divisions. The goal should be to no longer make leadership dependent on gender-specific characteristics at all.

It may not be visible immediately, but stereotypical associations (typically feminine-typically masculine) not only harm the advancement of women in leadership positions. Often men in top positions can succeed and are respected when their leadership can be described with words like egocentric, harsh, ruthless, and unempathetic.

This means that we must introduce such values as participation, cooperation or needs orientation for management positions to break up the network of supposedly strong, male leadership.

It is up to companies to recruit more women and non-binary persons and to signal to up-and-coming talents that they are welcome and can help shape things right up to the top management level.

At the WomenPower Congress , we will devote various workshops and presentations to the visibility of women in leadership positions and discuss together how we can break with outdated stereotypes. We look forward to a productive exchange and the progressive steps that we will all take from it.

McKinsey & Company (2020). Diversity wins: How inclusion matters.
Allbright Stiftung (2019). Ein ewiger Thomas-Kreislauf