Maersk Eyes Female CFO After Electing Board Dominated by Men

(Bloomberg) -- A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S is considering hiring its first female chief financial officer, as the century-old conglomerate seeks to make up for a widening gender gap in top management.

Shipping is a traditionally male-dominated industry and may help explain why Maersk still has the second-worst gender balance ratio among major corporations based in one of the most progressive corners of the world.

Jim Hagemann Snabe, who’s been chairman for a year now, says more diversity would be good for business at Denmark’s largest company, which operates in 130 countries.

“There are many candidates interested in this role, and we also have women on our list,” Snabe said in an interview on the sidelines of the company’s annual general meeting in Copenhagen. “We have an explicit goal to increase the number of women in the organization, as well as in leading positions.”

Read more about Maersk’s AGM

The company’s former CFO, Jakob Stausholm, unexpectedly left last month and Maersk’s management team, led by Chief Executive Officer Soren Skou, now consists of five men.

No Quotas

While Maersk’s home country of Denmark is known for its high level of female participation in the work force, it doesn’t have mandatory gender quotas for company boards like in neighboring Norway.

“I have seen it in my professional life, in my other leadership positions, that an organization which has better diversity and more women becomes a better business,” said Snabe, a veteran at German software maker SAP SE and the current chairman of Siemens AG.

Maersk’s board isn’t much better than its management team.

At Tuesday’s AGM, shareholders elected one of the most gender-unequal boards among the biggest Nordic companies. Maersk now has the lowest ratio (20 percent) of female board members in the Stoxx Nordic 30 Index after ostomy bag-maker Coloplast A/S (18 percent). That compares with a ratio of 50 percent at Nordea Bank AB, the region’s leader, and an average of 35 percent across Stoxx Nordic companies, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“We’re reviewing the future structure of the board, and we won’t just look at skills, which are obviously important, but also at diversity, including gender diversity,” Snabe said.

Snabe would not be drawn on a specific target, saying: “It’s better to set the parameter as a goal than a number. Then I’m sure the number will go up.”

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