IIC Partners

By IIC Partners
Jan. 11, 2015


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What is Bio-Diversity?

Bio-diversity is defined as the intersection of personal data and professional characteristics. Age, nationality and gender qualify as personal diversity while professional background, board experience and business insight account for professional diversity.

A recent study conducted by key2people executive search in Italy looked at 369 individuals serving on the boards of 21 European banks in eight European countries. Countries included in this study were the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Italy. The study analyzed six personal and professional elements for each board director and the statistics revealed the bio-diversity that existed at the board level for the banking sector.

Personal Data


The average age of male board directors across all countries was just under 60 years of age, while the average age of female board directors was 55. Germany had the youngest male board directors with an average age of 55 years, while Spain reported having the most senior male directors with an average age of 64 years. Italy represented the youngest female board directors with the average age around 54.



The study investigated the ratio between expatriate and national representation at the board level. The overall average of national diversity across all eight countries was 20%. Switzerland had the most nationally diverse boards with expatriates comprising 62% of all board positions followed by the United Kingdom (43%) and the Netherlands (36%). Spain had the lowest national diversity with nationals holding 96% of board positions.


France had the highest average of female representation on boards with 41% of board positions held by women, followed by Sweden (33%) and Spain (25%). The overall average across all eight countries of women holding board positions was 25.75%, while the Netherlands had the lowest female representation with an average of 18%.


Professional Data

Professional Background

An analysis of professional background attributes held by all board members revealed that the majority (91%) in the Netherlands had a background in financial services, followed by Germany (75%). Italy ranked well below average in professional background diversity with only 28% of its board members possessing a financial services background.

Board Turnover

Board members were asked whether this was their first bank board mandate in order to capture overall board turnover for each country. 64% of board directors in the Netherlands reported that this was their first time serving on their current bank board. Germany followed closely with just over half (53%) serving for the first time on their current bank board, and Spain had the lowest percentage of board turnover with 25%.


Business Insight

Business insight for all countries was reported by analyzing a board member’s previous work experience as a bank executive. Across all eight countries, on average 38% of directors had previously worked at the executive level of a bank. The Netherlands reported having the most business insight with over 73% of its board directors having executive banking experience. Germany followed in second with 62%, and France ranked third at 52%. Italy had the lowest average with only 23% of board directors having prior executive experience at a bank.



Based on the data that was analyzed, the Netherlands was ranked as having the most professional diversity at the board level, while Sweden had the most personal diversity. Germany had the highest overall bio-diversity by reporting high percentages across four of the six categories and Spain had the least bio-diversity at the board level by consistently ranking in the lower 50th percentile for all but one of the six categories.

About key2people

key2people (www.key2people.com) is a retained executive search firm located in Italy and is a member of IIC Partners Executive Search Worldwide. IIC Partners (www.iicpartners.com) is one of the top 10 executive search organizations in the world. The network of “Independent International Consultants” is made up of 38 independently owned and managed executive search firms representing 47 offices in 34 countries, all considered to be leaders in the geographic and industry markets they serve.

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