• 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
Five key tips to opening a bank account in France
Photo: Dave Dugdale/Flickr

Avoid the headaches. Read this before opening a bank account in France.

Afghan migrant killed by lorry in Calais
French riot police guard a truck after migrants tried to mount several trucks near the Eurotunnel, near Calais earlier this year. Photo: AFP

A 25-year-old Afghan migrant was killed by a lorry on a motorway near the French port city of Calais in the early hours of Saturday, according to officials.

French PM Valls stakes political career on union fight
A demonstrator wears a sticker featuring France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls last week in Nantes, western France, during a protest against government planned labour law reforms. Photo: AFP

Engaged in a fierce tug of war with unions and some of his own party over labour reforms, France's embattled Prime Minister Manuel Valls has staked his political career on staring down the crisis.

Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
Photos: AFP

A series of ongoing strikes in France could continue to affect the country throughout the Euro 2016 tournament, which starts in just two weeks.

Fuel crisis eases as French police unblock depots
Tires on fire in front of an oil depot near the Total refinery of Donges, western France, on Friday. Photo: AFP

After a week of fuel shortages in France, things are improving in time for the weekend.

Opinion - French strikes
'Stop pissing everyone off': French boss to union chief
Philippe Martinez, the head of the CGT union. Photo: AFP

In an open letter to the man attempting to bring France to a standstill, a business owner tells him to stop "living in the past" and stop "pissing everyone off".

Want a '30-hour work week'? Move to Paris (or Lyon)
Lunchtime in Paris? Photo: reynermedia/Flickr

Workers in Paris and Lyon put in the fewest hours out of 71 major cities around the world. Lazy or supremely efficient.

The nations the French love to make fun of the most
Photo: Romain Seignovert

The British are not the French's top target, believe it or not.

What's the story behind French Neighbours' Day?
Families get together in the northern suburbs of Paris on Neighbour's Day. Photo: AFP

Fuel crisis
Renting a car in fuel-starved France? No need to panic
Photo: AFP

While France's fuel concerns have prompted holiday cancellations, car rental companies say travellers have nothing to worry about.

National
Which of France's strikes could affect Euro 2016?
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
'You're not welcome': French police chief warns English yobs
How to avoid running out of fuel if you're coming to France
National
It's Neighbours' Day! But what does it all mean?
National
The French fuel crisis for dummies: 27 key questions
National
The trials and tribulations of moving to rural France
National
Five free smartphone apps to help you find petrol in France
National
A complete guide to France's (many) ongoing strikes
Culture
Paris: Street artist makes the Louvre pyramid disappear
Interactive map: Where to find petrol in France
Who is the French union in a 'fight to the death' with the government?
Society
Opinion: Why the French are absolutely right to go on strike
National
Here's why both sides despise France's labour reforms
National
Who is really to blame for the fuel crisis in France?
National
Here are the parts of France hardest hit by the fuel shortages
Travel
It will soon be time to say 'au revoir' to the Paris Metro ticket
Culture
Revealed: The ultimate sex map of France
National
Migrants at Calais camp given dignity in death
International
How good is security at Charles de Gaulle airport?
Culture
How to make a traditional French cassoulet
Culture
IN PICS: Commuter trains in Paris get royal makeover
International
Terror attack 'likeliest cause' of missing EgyptAir plane
International
Who was on board the missing EgyptAir flight from Paris?
2,737
jobs available