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Diversity on Swiss boards of directors in 2020 -19% top – 67% flop

Zürich, 3. September 2020

For the first time, the Diversity Report Switzerland 2020 provides a complete survey of gender diversity on the boards of directors of Swiss companies. The data of the 7’605 public limited companies with more than 50 employees registered in the Swiss Commercial Register (as of July 2020) served as the basis for analysis. The evaluation 1) was carried out by GetDiversity GmbH with the intention of creating transparency about the still untapped potential of capable and diverse talents with which Swiss companies could effectively secure and expand their competitiveness.

The result: there is a ray of light on the horizon. After all, 19% or 1’453 of the companies surveyed have a gender diversity in the range of 30% – 70% and thus already voluntarily comply with the soon to be valid gender benchmarks for boards of directors of listed companies. Clearly above this target, and thus particularly positive, are 274 Swiss companies with a 50/50 distribution both on the board of directors and among the signatories. They are referred to in this report as “diversity champions”.

The downside: 67% or 4’961 of the companies evaluated do not have a single woman on their board of directors, 132 no men. The picture is similarly bleak in terms of gender mix among all those responsible under commercial law (board of directors and signatories): 2’965 work without women, 67 without men. This means that 40% of the analysed companies do not have a gender mix among their officers. distribuzione 50/50 sia nel consiglio di amministrazione che tra i firmatari autorizzati. Nel presente rapporto queste aziende vengono nominate “campionesse della diversità”.

A total of 3’528 board seats of medium-sized and large companies in Switzerland, which corresponds to 14% of the board seats in the analysed companies, are filled by women. Accordingly, there are already significantly more women with board experience than is often assumed or claimed, who could contribute this experience or ensure a better gender mix.

In view of these figures, it becomes clear that the majority of the analysed companies are giving away decisive competitive advantages. It is well proven and known that mixed teams are more successful and profitable thanks to their diversity in terms of e.g. solution competence, innovative strength and risk assessment. Behavioural research shows that diversity has its full effect with a share of at least 30%. With an average share of women of 14% in the boards of directors and 19% among the signatories, diversity is not yet sufficiently effective in the companies studied. The potential to structurally improve the chances of entrepreneurial success is accordingly high.

The Swiss « Diversity Champions »

There is another way. At least 274 of the companies evaluated have long since recognised this and prove it with a gender representation of 50% women and 50% men on the board of directors and among the signatories, which is why the Diversity Report Switzerland 2020 designates them as “Diversity Champions”.

These companies include, for example:     

  1. as the largest company, with over 500 employees: YX Magnetic SA, Sierre      
  2. as the oldest company, registered in the Commercial Register in 1883: Hotel Europe Davos AG, Davos        
  3. as companies with over 100 employees, the largest board of directors and the highest number of authorised signatories:    
  • Groupe Médical de Versoix SA, Versoix    
  • Valmont Group Holding SA, Geneva
  • EF Education First AG, Zurich
  • Montanstahl SA, Stabio
  • AG für Liegenschaftswerte, Basel
  • Société anonyme de la Colline Champel, Geneva

Surprising in this context is that the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, which was the last in Switzerland to introduce women’s suffrage at the cantonal level in 1991, has the highest proportion of “diversity champions” at 13%.

Fix the system – not the women

“If we want more Swiss companies to become ‘diversity champions’ in the future, or at least exceed the 30% mark, a cultural change in these companies is necessary,” states Esther-Mirjam de Boer, co-owner and director of GetDiversity GmbH.

If companies lose women on the way to the top management level, it means that they have a “leaking pipeline”. In oil companies, it is clear that a leaking pipeline is fixed at the pipe, not the oil. Some executives still believe that a leaking pipeline in their talent pool is to be fixed in the women, rather than in the company. “More and more companies, however, are coming to realise that the company culture, the way it is run, the structures, processes and habits are part of the problem and are therefore changing the system. The motto is: fix the system – not the women,” the expert on diversity and inclusive culture concludes. The publication of the Diversity Report Switzerland 2020 was actively supported by the co-publishers Swiss Post and Swiss Ladies Drive as well as the partners AMAG, Berner Kantonalbank and SBB.

Note: Almost simultaneously with the Diversity Report Switzerland, the Advance and HSG Gender Intelligence Report 2020 ( will be published on 10 September 2020. In this report, the promotion chains across all hierarchy levels are analysed, based on structural data from 75 large Swiss companies. The two studies thus complement each other perfectly in order to draw an overall picture of the gender mix in the Swiss economy, both in terms of breadth and depth.

1) Methodology: GetDiversity queried the commercial register data of all public limited companies with more than 50 employees and evaluated and statistically analysed them according to gender distribution with the help of artificial intelligence. The evaluation was based on the first names of the registered persons. Ambiguous names such as Andrea and Dominique were researched and assigned by hand. Random samples yielded an accuracy of over 98%. The largest banks and insurance companies were excluded from this survey because they have a disproportionately large number of authorised signatories or subsidiaries, which distort the results.

Background information:

Since 2007, GetDiversity has successfully supported companies in expanding and harnessing their diversity. For boards of directors and executive boards, GetDiversity offers recruitment processes that promote qualification for strategy work and equal opportunities at the same time.

GetDiversity is the market leader for gender diversity in Switzerland. Since the takeover in 2016, the two owners Esther-Mirjam de Boer and Carla Jane Kaufmann have developed the company into a TalentTech company that can find qualified women for any mandate using BigData solutions.

An InclusiveCulture is what makes diversity in companies effective in a sustainable way the first place. More and more companies rely on GetDiversity’s strategy consulting for the cultural transformation of their companies towards more cooperation and diversity.

Contact for further information and images:

Dorit Schmidt-Purrmann

Impulswerk GmbH

Tel: +41 76 422 61 15


Esther-Mirjam de Boer

GetDiversity GmbH

Margrit-Rainer-Strasse 11c

8050 Zürich

Tel.: +41 78 820 86 96



Margrit Rainer-Strasse 11c CH-8050 Zürich


Designed by Egor Bulgac