Expats 'less dominant' in Swiss boardrooms

Malcolm Curtis
Malcolm Curtis - [email protected] • 6 Mar, 2015 Updated Fri 6 Mar 2015 10:00 CEST
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Expats will remain a significant but declining force in the boardrooms of top companies in Switzerland, according to a top executive head hunter.

The share of foreigners in upper management of the biggest 100 Swiss companies (in terms of employees) has stabilized at 42 percent this year after dropping from 45 to 42 percent the previous year, Zurich-based Guido Schilling said on Thursday.

“The appeal of Switzerland for foreign talent has dropped,” Schilling told a press conference in Zurich that was widely reported by Swiss media.

“The downward trend took off in 2011 and the decline is going to continue,” Schilling predicted, according to a report from Le Temps newspaper.

He noted that 40 percent of new CEOs are foreigners compared to 48 percent in 2011.

Foreigners are more prominent in the management of companies in the Swiss Market Index (SMI), the 20 companies with the largest capitalization on the Swiss stock exchange, Schilling noted.

Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of top management of SMI companies are non-Swiss, compared to 29 percent of German companies in the DAX, he said.

“While numerous directors are returning to their country of origin, Switzerland remains attractive but companies must each year redouble efforts to keep talent.”

Foreigners account for 36 percent of boards of directors in the biggest Swiss companies, with non-Swiss occupying 82 percent of board chair positions at SMI companies and 39 percent of all major companies.

Expats account for 71 percent of CEOs at SMI companies and 41 percent of those at the top 100 companies, according to Schilling.

Americans account for 24 percent of chief executives at SMI companies, ahead of the French (17 percent), British (15 percent) and Germans (nine percent).

Overall in upper management, Germans fill 32 percent of posts, followed by Americans (15 percent) and French (10 percent).

“It is a strong signal of the accelerated globalization of the big groups listed on exchanges.”

Schilling said that more women are taking up posts on company boards of directors.

One in three vacancies is now being filled by women, however there is little progress when it comes to management positions where their share of positions has only risen from four to six percent in the past 10 years.


Schilling said nine percent of new management positions are going to women, although the level is slightly higher in SMI companies (14 percent).

Guido Schilling’s full annual report is due to be released in May.

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Malcolm Curtis 2015/03/06 10:00

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