• France edition
 
Gender quotas boost equality at French firms
File photo: Simon McConico/iStockhphoto

Gender quotas boost equality at French firms

Published: 23 Feb 2013 08:15 GMT+01:00
Updated: 23 Feb 2013 08:15 GMT+01:00

"France has raised the bar for other countries interested in opening up corporate board rooms to women," said Irene Natividad at the Washington-based Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI) which conducted the study.

The study shows that France has overtaken the United States in placing women on the boards of the world's 200 largest companies. 

The average percentage of female directors among Fortune Global 200 companies, the world's largest by revenues, came to a modest 15 percent. Thanks to a new French quota law, the number of women directors in 17 top French companies equated to 25.1 percent, while only 20.9 percent of board members were women at the 57 largest US companies.

In a similar study released in late 2011, France beat a timetable set by the quota law taking effect in January of that year, that requires publicly listed companies to make 40 percent of their directors women by 2017.

The law set a halfway point of three years to reach 20 percent, and France had 20.1 percent. That marked substantial progress from 7.2 percent representation in 2004, when the CWDI first tracked the data.

"The dramatic increase in the number of women now serving on the boards of French companies shows that it is possible to do this at a quicker pace, as long as there's a plan to do so," Natividad said.

Norway initiated the board room quota drive in 2003 and reached its 40 percent mandate in 2008.

Five other European countries now have government quotas on female directors in public companies: Belgium, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. Outside Europe, Malaysia is the sole country with such a quota.

Ten other countries have quotas for women on the boards of government-owned companies, bringing to 18 the number of countries with some kind of quota.

The improved numbers worldwide also were driven by the inclusion of gender or board diversity language in the corporate governance code in several European countries, the CWDI said.

Finland led that drive and now has 22 percent of board seats held by women, in an initiative that has spread to other continents, the group said, calling it "a very popular strategy for countries wanting to avoid quotas."

"There are now 17 countries who have adopted this initiative," the research group said.

The data made clear that government quotas and gender diversity recommendations spurred women's acceptance to the boardroom.

"Quotas work," said Natividad. "Inserting gender diversity into corporate governance codes works.

"What doesn't work is assuming that women will rise to board seats 'naturally,' and therefore do nothing."

The world's top three economies -- the United States, China and Japan -- are home to 104 of the Fortune 200 companies, but had the lowest percentage increases in women-held board seats.

"None of these countries have concerted proactive strategies to improve the numbers of women directors in their respective countries," the CWDI said.

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

2013-02-23 16:58:38 by Eric
Equality doesn't mean equal. When women, or any other group, are promoted over men because they women then it's not equality. The individual and the individual talents aren't important. It's all about appearances nothing more.
Today's headlines
Top Gear to launch new French version of show
Hit British car series "Top Gear" is coming to France. Photo: Ana Poenariu/AFP

Top Gear to launch new French version of show

France is going to get its own version of legendary British auto series Top Gear with the show set to hit the TV screens by next year. READ  

Ukraine crisis
Mistral deal: Pressure on France as tensions rise
France may be forced to take another another look at its warship deal with Russia. Photo: Sergei Supinsky/AFP

Mistral deal: Pressure on France as tensions rise

Increased tension in the Ukraine has only served to heighten the pressure on France, which so far has stubbornly refused to pull-out of its €1.2 billion deal to sell two Mistral warships to Russia. But will Paris be forced to re-consider? READ  

Paris building blast: Eighth body found
Firefighters pull a body from the rubble after an explosion brought down an apartment block near Paris on Sunday. Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

Paris building blast: Eighth body found

French rescue workers pulled an eighth body out of the rubble of a four-storey building near Paris on Monday. The apartment block collapsed on Sunday after an explosion. Rescuers don't believe anyone else is still missing. READ  

Opinion - School reform
'New five-day week is vital for French pupils'
French primary school pupils will attend school five days a week from now on, despite opposition from parents. Photo: Shutterstock

'New five-day week is vital for French pupils'

The head of a major parents' group in France tells The Local why the new five-day school week will bring French schools into the 21st century. READ  

Ligue 1
Blow for French league as Falcao departs
Radamel Falcao has left French Ligue 1 side to join Manchester United. Photo: AFP

Blow for French league as Falcao departs

The French league was dealt a blow on Monday when one of its star names, Monaco's Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, left to join Manchester United. The move shows clubs in France's Ligue 1, with the exception of PSG, cannot compete with Europe's big teams. READ  

Photo of French pupils draws 'racist' backlash
An Education Ministry photo has prompted an online controversy in France, because only one kid is white. Photo: Sophie Brändström/Education Ministry

Photo of French pupils draws 'racist' backlash

The French government has firmly rebuked scores of 'racist' comments left on an education ministry Facebook post which shows a back-to-school scene with mostly non-white children. The image has elicited a furious online debate. READ  

French bureaucrats go after baker for 22 cents
Bureaucrats at the RSI have threatened legal action against a retired baker for a debt of 22 centimes. Photo: AFP

French bureaucrats go after baker for 22 cents

A retired pastry maker from the south of France was given a nasty shock this week when French authorities threatened to take legal action against him over unpaid debt. He stands accused of owing 22 centimes to the state. A stamp in France costs 59 cents. READ  

Ask The Experts - French savings
Saving money in France: What's the best option?
What's the best thing to do with your savings in France? Photo: Shutterstock

Saving money in France: What's the best option?

Ever wondered what's the best thing to do with your savings in France? As part of our "Ask The Experts" series we've invited expat financial adviser Jonathan Cooper to tell you what to do with your hard-earned euros. READ  

France's 'Tony Blair' divides Socialist Party
Does the French PM Manuel Valls remind you of anyone? A younger Tony Blair perhaps? Photo: Jean-Pierre Muller/AFP

France's 'Tony Blair' divides Socialist Party

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls urged Socialist Party rebels to unite behind the government this weekend, as opposition among dissenters on the left against the leader they are increasingly referring to as a French "Tony Blair", continues to grow. READ  

Ligue 1 round-up
PSG in five-goal rout as Bordeaux slip up
Zlatan celebrates after scoring one of three goals against St Etienne on Sunday night. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

PSG in five-goal rout as Bordeaux slip up

French champions PSG made a statement of intent on Sunday beating Saint Etienne 5-0 at the Parc des Princes, while leaders Bordeaux slipped up at home to Bastia and Lyon lost again. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Ten dos and don'ts for keeping your French in-laws happy
National
Unemployment: How does France compare to Europe?
International
Are all the talented professionals really leaving France?
National
La France profonde: Is it a rural idyll or a backwater hell?
Travel
Check out the four new attractions coming to Paris this autumn
Gallery
The French words you can't translate literally
National
Ten things you need to know about France's economics whizzkid
International
VIDEO: Watch the top five street scams to avoid in Paris
Politics
Take a look at the bulging to-do list that awaits France's new government
Politics
Six questions for France after Hollande ousts rebels
International
Choosing schools in France: Do you go international or French?
Gallery
From kissing to bad-mouthing: Ten ways expats in France drive you mad
Culture
Ten things you need to know about the Liberation of Paris:
Travel
Watch this impressive time lapse video and you'll want to move to Paris
National
Veiled Muslim woman on a French beach prompts politician's angry rant
Travel
Forget Paris and Provence where are the least touristy areas of France?
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The battle to liberate Paris from the Nazis
National
What France means to you in just one tweet
National
15 French 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
12 reasons to invest in Paris and seven not to
National
French hamlet 'Death to Jews' mulls name change
National
French tourist caught in Pompeii brothel romp
International
'Forget the Anglo-media's image of France, the reality is much different'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se