Corporate governance in Germany
Diversifying the board
German boards have long been cosy men's clubs. But things are changing
HERMANN JOSEF ABS liked to joke, What's the difference between a doghouse and the supervisory board?
The doghouse is for the dog; the supervisory board is for the cat.
For those unfamiliar with the nuances of German humour, for the cat is slang for something like trash.
The late banker would know: while running Deutsche Bank from 1957 to 1967, he also sat on dozens of supervisory boards.
已故的银行家或许知道，在1957到1967年间主管德意志银行时，HERMANN JOSEF ABS还是几十个监事会成员里的一个。
This was the peak of Deutschland AG, a clique of long-serving bosses, autocratic chairmen, do-nothing board members and their financier friends.
Big German companies' supervisory boards are supposed to act as a check on their management boards.
But in practice their relations were too cosy for this.
This past year the stumbles of two titans seemed to highlight how much corporate power is still concentrated in few hands in the Germanspeaking world.
As 2013 began Gerhard Cromme was chairman of the supervisory boards of both Siemens, an industrial conglomerate, and ThyssenKrupp, a steelmaker.
But big losses at foreign mills and heavy fines over a cartel case cost him the chairmanship at ThyssenKrupp.
Then in July, a boardroom bunfight at Siemens ended with the departure of Peter Lscher, the chief executive.
Mr Cromme belatedly called for his firing—but only after hiring him and protecting him for years.
Josef Ackermann, a Swiss former boss of Deutsche Bank and a Siemens board member, had defended Mr Lscher.
When Mr Lscher went, so did he.
Shortly before this he had quit as chairman of Zurich, a Swiss insurer, whose chief financial officer had committed suicide, leaving a note berating Mr Ackermann.
Now he has no big corporate job, there have been reports that Mr Ackermann may have to step down as a trustee of the World Economic Forum after its gabfest in Davos this week.
At first glance, corporate power in Germany still looks male, German and concentrated.
But its boardrooms are slowly getting more diverse.
In 2003 the average supervisory-board member at a public company sat on 1.9 boards; now the figure is 1.6.
A 2001 cut in tax on sales of shares let banks and insurance companies, which played big roles as lenders and part-owners, start disentangling themselves from companies.
Into the gaps, and onto the boards, has come a new generation of more active members.
Boards have little choice but to be sharper, says Christoph Schalast of Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.
Many companies are now paying fines and settlements for their behaviour before the financial crisis.
A 2010 change in the law doubled the statute of limitations for such misdeeds to ten years.
Progress on making boards more international is slower.
Eight of the largest 30 public companies have foreign bosses, but the rest of their boards' members are predominantly German, even at the country's most multinational firms.
But Burkhard Schwenker, the boss of Roland Berger, a consulting firm, says that counting passports is simplistic: what matters more is international experience, which German firms increasingly look for when recruiting both management-and supervisory-board members.
咨询公司Roland Berger的董事长Burkhard Schwenker却表示哪个国家的其实不重要，在招募管理及董事成员时更看重的是德国公司急需的国际经验。
If boards are becoming more professional and diverse, is accumulation of board seats a bad thing in itself?
Jrg Rocholl, the president of the European School for Management and Technology, says that studies disagree on whether busy board members are better or worse for profits.
But he agrees that boards are becoming more capable, and says this has been a factor in Germany's economic revival.
Pay for German board members is going up; but these days, members are earning it.
1.familiar with 熟悉的；友好的
No country is more familiar with nuclear peril than japan.
A person familiar with the case offered further details.
2.suppose to 认为
I suppose to go there on my honeymoon.
Would you suppose to meet the people on the boat.
3.concentrate in 集中于
Most accounting personnel concentrate in the financial department.
Because of his somnolent voice students find it difficult to concentrate in his classes.
4.call for 需要；要求
A few relatively infrequent situations also call for a semicolon.
Finally, higher food prices will call for tighter monetary policy.