Gender equality: parity is improving at the head of companies, but not at all levels

Women and men get together for a meeting. Illustrative photo. (ERIC AUDRAS / MAXPPP)

Objective achieved, first place in the world won: the Copé-Zimmermann law is unanimous. It required a balanced representation of women and men on boards of directorsa and it exceeded its targets. It is not 40% of women that we count at the head of the companies of the CAC 40 and the SBF 120 – the 120 largest companies listed on the place of Paris -, as the law fixed, but 46%. They were only 15% to sit on the board of directors in 2001.

France has overtaken Norway in this area, it is the world number one in parity. But only in these famous boards of directors, these organs “where we give the guidelines”, as summarized by Marie-Jo Zimmermann. But the runoff did not take place. There are still few women within the real governments of the companies, among the executives who sit on the management committees or on the executive committees, the famous “Comex” and “Codir”. They are only 18% in this case within the CAC40. And 22% among the SBF 120. And only one woman leads an elite group. Catherine MacGregor, at Engie.

Hence the idea, again, of imposing quotas. Germany has done it, France is thinking about it. Bruno Le Maire is in favor. During a speech before the National Assembly, the Minister of Economy and Finance said he wanted “move up a gear and enter into a more ambitious logic”. Elisabeth Borne is on another line. As indicated on the Actuel RH website, it rather wishes to supplement the equal pay index with a new indicator. A box that would measure the share of women in senior executives. The Medef, for its part, does not view this issue of quotas very favorably. But the High Council for Gender Equality called Tuesday February 26 for the extension of these quotas within the management committees and executive committees.

Then there are all the other businesses. Marie-Jo Zimmernan, co-author of the law, would like there to be a real dashboard for all the companies affected by its law, namely all companies with more than 250 employees who make at least 50 million euros of turnover. They are less supervised than the larger ones. The idea is to advance women at all levels of the company. Not just on boards of directors.

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