Top vs. Flop: Ertharin Cousin & Sigmar Gabriel


The Association of Supervisory Boards in Germany (VARD) has some time ago an own diversity ranking of the Dax supervisory boards presented. The idea behind this was that diversity is much more than the quota of women: it is about different ways of thinking, perspectives and networks.

Therefore, one of the criteria of the ranking was the diversity of demonstrable relationships: Which committees are dominated by supervisory boards that are only networked in classic power circles and stew in their own juice? And where are the experts who (also) cultivate contacts beyond their industry – for example, to science or NGOs?

We are convinced that this approach is more topical than ever in the Corona crisis. Because the pandemic shows: In a tightly interwoven world there may suddenly be a need for completely different perspectives and sources of information. Supervisory boards that can tap into networks outside the business world are therefore more valuable than ever.

Lobbyists on the Supervisory Board?

In this respect, Werner Wenning, the retiring Bayer Chief Financial Controller, did everything right when he presented Ertharin Cousin appointed to the supervisory boardThe long-serving head of the UN World Food Programme not only brings important expertise to the crop science business: She should also broaden the board’s horizons.

Even though there is still a lot to be done in the area of corporate governance, Bayer has taken a step forward – especially since the company’s human resources are a commitment to social responsibility: Ertharin Cousin has dedicated her life to the fight against hunger.

Against the background of the stakeholder value principle and a more stable social anchorage, Sigmar Gabriel’s move to the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bank is also understandable. After all, the long-standing SPD leader and foreign minister is well networked far beyond the business community.

However, the appointment of former high-ranking politicians always leaves a bland aftertaste. After all, one quickly suspects that it is primarily their political network that is at stake – in other words, lobbying at the highest level. Werner Wenning has thus found a more elegant solution than Paul Achleitner.


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