France backs gender quotas in corporate top management

Paris (AFP) – France on Thursday adopted a law forcing large companies to raise the number of women in top management positions and report publicly on progress.


The move comes a decade after France made it mandatory for big businesses to have women make up at least 40 percent of their boards, but the government said this initiative had failed to trickle down into executive positions.

The MP sponsoring the law, Marie-Pierre Rixain, said it was seeking "real economic and professional equality" for women by calling for companies of more than 1,000 staff to have at least 30 percent women among top managers and in leadership committees by 2027, and at least 40 percent by 2030.

In 2030, companies will have two extra years to comply with the rules, after which they can be fined if they fail to do so.

They will also have to publish their progress on the labour ministry's website every year, exposing themselves to possible naming and shaming.

"The glass ceiling between corporate management bodies and boardrooms is still perfectly impenetrable, and salary inequalities remain," said Elisabeth Moreno, French minister in charge of gender equality.

In 2019, women represented 43.6 percent of board members at France's 120 top listed companies, compared with just over 26 percent in 2013.

But they still made up just 19 percent of people in executive committees and top management teams, according to the high authority for gender equality which publishes annual reports on sexism in France.