Skip to main content

Stakeholder Management Strategies for Female Leaders

Gender diversity in Germany's listed companies has been a topic of discussion in recent years. Although there have been efforts to increase the representation of women in leadership positions, such as the introduction of legal quotas, the number of women in executive roles in the top 100 companies is still only at 18 percent in 2022. This number has been gradually increasing, but progress is slow.
It is important that companies continue implementing strategies and foster cultural changes to fully realize the benefits of gender diversity. In particular, the environment in which female leaders operate and the stakeholders with whom they engage need to be examined more closely to identify pitfalls and success factors.

In search of solutions, FGS Global and Egon Zehnder have evaluated current research findings and based on this conducted interviews with 20 active and former female board members as well as with supervisory board members of Germany's largest listed companies - both male and female. They also discussed this topic with organizational researcher Prof. Dr. Isabell M. Welpe from LMU Munich.
In that context they further asked the question: Why is change happening so slowly when quota rules are in place and there is no shortage of lip service to increase diversity?

“The core challenge is that we all, men and women alike, judge the same behavior, the same performance, the same CVs differently based on social and demographic characteristics. And that's exactly where we need to start to make a change." 

"Social norms and mindsets make it very difficult for women to do what they believe is best." 

"If you come from the outside, you should really take a lot of time at the beginning to get to know the individual stakeholders." 


The results show that there is no lack of awareness. If we want Germany's top management bodies to become more female, we need to make several adjustments now.

  • In Germany, traditional role patterns for women and men still exist and can also be found in public reporting. All social actors, including the media, have a responsibility to achieve sustainable change. The image of a woman at the top is often stereotyped with a focus on family life, appearance, and supposedly gender-specific characteristics.

  • A quantitative approach is not enough to fundamentally change things – a true cultural shift is needed.

  • Corporate cultures are shaped from the top down. The Management Board and Supervisory Board play a central role in achieving sustainable cultural change. The CEO in particular must be a role model for diversity and involve team members on the board equally. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board, in turn, is a gatekeeper in the appointment of board positions.

  • Top female managers themselves can have an influence: knowing the stakeholder ecosystem and understanding its dynamic is a core task for every new board member or supervisory board member. To manage existing stereotypes, female leaders need to position themselves proactively and visibly in an authentic manner.

At FGS Global we help leaders realize their full potential. To deliver on that mission we support our clients navigating complex stakeholder environments, finding the right positioning tailored to their individual situation, needs and personality. With our Stakeholder Management Strategies for Female Leaders we are by your side addressing when knowing, managing and addressing your stakeholders expectations are most crucial: when you start a new role, are up for a promotion, refocussing your strategic positioning or moving to a new position.

Our team of communication experts have decades of experience in strategic leadership positioning in the corporate environment. We provide our clients with unique insights into stakeholder perception and support them in navigating the complex stakeholder economy. By combining our expertise in media relations, transformation & change communications, public affairs and crisis communication we help female leaders to find their strategic positioning, engage with their stakeholders and make an impact – even in challenging situations.

Meet our team