Hmmm ... what's missing from this boardroom?
Hmmm ... what's missing from this boardroom?Poor Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann! He just wanted a little innocent beautification in his life, and then people had to go and accuse him of being a raging sexist. Life just isn't fair.
The investment banker found himself in hot water after a press conference in which he said that he hoped there would be more women in top management posts at Deutsche Bank because then the company's boardrooms would be more "colorful" and "prettier."
Now, as it happens, Deutsche Bank has no women in its top two executive layers. Compounding the problem is the fact that only three of Germany's 30 top publicly traded companies have a woman on their management board. Therefore, these comments didn't sit particularly well with German women (or men, if we're truly being honest here).
But can you blame Ackermann? After all, who doesn't want to be among pretty things all day? Isn't that why we women are kept around?
To be fair, Ackermann actually made the comments in support of progressive reforms -- specifically, a plan for a mandatory minimum quota for women in bank boardrooms. (It was recently quashed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said she preferred companies to increase gender diversity voluntarily.)
But to insinuate -- even mistakenly -- that women rise to high level positions for reasons other than merit is a major faux pas. And, several German leaders including Silvana Koch-Mehrin, a member of the European Parliament for the pro-business Free Democratic Party, were quick to point this out:
If Mr Ackermann wants more color in the management board, he should hang pictures on the wall. Women in leadership positions don’t see themselves as objects of decoration, and that certainly also applies to the female managers at Deutsche Bank.
Ackermann may have thought he was delivering a compliment to women, but instead he succeeded in pissing them all off. It would seem the banker might benefit from a lesson in the fine art of political correctness. Oh, and maybe a good decorator, too.
Were you offended by Ackermann's "pretty" comments?
Image via rvacapinta/Flickr