French plan to force gender equality on boardrooms


Jean-François Copé, president of the majority UMP party, said it could give a "much-needed electro-shock" to the French corporate world, long considered a bastion reserved for the male elite in which only 10.5% of board members in CAC 40 (French stock market index) companies are female.

Referring to France's move in 2000 to encourage gender equality in politics, he said: "We must do to companies what we did in the public domain a few years ago and impose parity."

The proposals, which would also apply to state-owned companies and non-listed firms with supervisory boards, will be debated next month and would need the approval of both houses of parliament to become law.

Despite the historically entrenched opposition of business chiefs to quotas, advocates say the bill is the result of a sea change in public attitudes towards gender equality. Over the past year a series of French figures not known for their feminist stance have spoken out in favour of quotas.

Tags: CAC 40, Paris, Sarkozy, feminism, gender equality, parity, stock exchange

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Replies to This Discussion

The real solution may be in understanding why that happens in the first place and then trying to fix that problem instead.

You sound like it's easy. I watched the debate on both French parliamentary TV channels (a small part of it actually, since it took days), and I've heard that question asked a few times. But it led to unending discussions and a decision must be made at some point. Everyone was aware this one was no better than a "necessary evil", but after hours of hot debate they agreed no other decision could led to positive results.
The problem is a vicious cycle. If women aren't to be found in the boardroom, there will be a reluctance to include them. The motive may not be blatant misogyny, rather the tendency to maintain the status quo.
France is a much more Socialist country than the U.S. This is by no means an insult, I actually see the appeal of such a system on many levels. That alone makes it more difficult for those of us in the U.S. to really understand.
What this article was missing was any critique on how this has effected Norway after the plan had reached full implementation. If I were to extrapolate only from what is in the article I would say it was successful because they have more than 4% over the compliance rate. That does not mean I'm right, but it seems like a reasonable conclusion. It sounds like a more targeted version of our affirmative action.
I would also agree with the woman who pointed out the obvious, they need to follow the rule set for government before asking others to accept it.


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