• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Gender quotas boost equality at French firms

AFP · 23 Feb 2013, 08:15

Published: 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.

Story continues below…

"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.

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
View from the rue
What do Parisians think of France's burqini bans?
Photo: AFP

With 64 percent of the French against burqinis at the beach, what do the Parisians think?

Almost half of France now on heatwave alert
Children cool off in Nice's fountains. Photo: AFP

Orange alerts - the second highest level - were issued to 43 départements as France's heatwave shows no signs of stopping.

France's top ten beaches to survive the heatwave
Photo: Gomezdegomera/Flickr

Temperatures are soaring... why not head to the beach?

Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
People taking part in activities in the Bassin de la Villette. Photo: AFP

If you fancy a rare chance to swim along the Paris canal system, here comes your chance.

French wine output drops 10 percent after stormy weather
A vineyard in Valfaunes partially destroyed after a violent hailstorm near the southern city of Montpellier. Photo: AFP

Bad weather has pushed wine production in France down ten percent this year.

Migrants armed with sticks hold up truck driver in Calais
Migrants standing near the Calais motorway. File photo: AFP

The driver involved says he deals with similar incidents "every night".

Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
The burqini ban in 30 French towns has provoked debate worldwide. Photo: AFP

Almost two thirds of French people said they're against the controversial swimwear.

Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Photo: Thomas Heylen/Flickr

A few things you need to know about interning in France.

Police arrest Lyon man who 'talked of attack plans'
French soldiers patrolling the Part-Dieu train station last year. Photo: AFP

The man had talked about plans to attack a busy district in central Lyon.

France's burqini ban goes before country's top court
A woman models the burqini swimsuit. Photo: AFP

France's highest administrative court will on Thursday examine a request to scrap a ban on the Islamic burqini swimsuit.

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
French mayor bans Pokemon Go app from his village
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
'To boycott France is to surrender to terrorists'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Travel
21 photos to make you want to come to France right now
Society
This is how much the French are obsessed with cheese
National
French MP's call for Facebook ID cards blasted 'as idiotic'
Travel
Summer checklist: Fourteen great travel ideas for France
Travel
Here's why France is still world's top tourist destination
'Wealthy American tourists' snub France over terror fears
National
Where to go swimming in France (and where to avoid)
2,741
jobs available