German CEO: Adding Women To The Board Would “Make It Prettier”

When it comes to trying to break the glass ceiling, it turns out women need to fight their “advocates” as much as they need to convince those who fight gender equity.

Via Forbes:

When asked to comment on Germany’s proposed corporate board gender quota, Josef Ackermann advocated for greater numbers of women within the executive ranks as a bottom line, business imperative…yet then quipped that the appointment of a woman on his bank’s all-male board would make it “more colorful and prettier.”

To Ackermann, which is more valuable — women’s insight and expertise, or their ability ‘decorate’ the stodgy boardrooms of white haired men?

Given this media landmine, Deutsche Bank’s spokesperson attempted the PR ‘get out of jail free card’ by claiming that Ackermann’s comments were taken out of context, conceding that his CEO was “a gentleman from the old school.”

Three of Germany’s top 30 companies have women on the board, according to Forbes, a dismal 10 percent.  But America isn’t much better, with only 16 percent of the top 500 companies.

Some argue that women should be happy that people are pushing for more women in upper management, despite how offensive the comments from the “advocate” might be.  But surely there must be some way to fight for gender parity without supporting an “old-school” gentleman’s idea of women as window dressing.


Norma V.
Norma Villarreal6 years ago

Should females decorate his boardroom meetings wearing stiletto heels?

Carole H.
Carole H7 years ago

I note that the 'gentleman' himself did not offer up an apology, no surprise really, unfortunately I suspect he does not even think he said anything wrong and worse still probably thinks he was being rather amusing - a sad reflection in the 21st century.

Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog7 years ago

Good to know that in the end, we're still just ornamental figurines!! How sad...

Claudia O.
Claudia O7 years ago

Well, the good thing is the old boys are retiring and the more astute men and women are moving up in the ranks. Still, I suppose women will always have to deal with the uncouth and clueless remarks.

Robert O.
Robert O7 years ago

It might the board look prettier but I'm positive it would also make the board smarter and more successful. Ackermann is obviously still living in the dark ages and dragging his knuckles behind him when he walks. The worrisome part is that there are many others like him out there in the world.

Alan Ralph
Past Member 7 years ago

Nothing will significantly change until the old boys (and their school-tie networks) go the way of the dinosaurs... :|

Kate Florio
Kate F7 years ago

looking at the other side of the coin, being put on a board in order to add 'fluff' would take off a lot of pressure to perform, so ANYTHING she says that might be brilliant, would be icing on the cake.

i was hired once, years ago, because the employer liked my legs. well, at the time i thought that was great, especially since i had no idea what i was doing while learning about the job. my feeling was that i was totally grateful that i was hired, never mind the reason why!!! on top of that, as long as my legs stayed pretty much the same, i didn't feel as pressured to learn the job as if i had a 4 digit IQ!!!

so i say, if you keep the 'fluff' level the same as when you applied for the job, you're in business - the job might be a breeze!!!!!

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

John B.
John B7 years ago

Girls, you are going to have a rough time with some old boys as they are going to see you as fluff no matter what you do. You are dealing with fixed ideas and conditions here. This is how the fellow was taught to look at women back in the 40s and 50s and he just doesn't realize that times have changed.

Marie W.
Marie W7 years ago

You can't fix these guys- throw him off the board and it would be smarter!