A proposed LREM law “ardently” supported by the government, which establishes quotas for women in management positions in large companies, was adopted definitively on Thursday by Parliament in a final vote in the Senate.
Despite the Copé-Zimmermann law of 2011, which imposed 40% of women on boards of directors, there was no “trickle down” of feminization to executive and management committees. This new law therefore extends the logic of quotas to positions of responsibility.
More than 43% of board seats for women
Supported by the deputy Marie-Pierre Rixain, president of the delegation for the rights of women of the National Assembly, the bill for a “real economic and professional equality” between women and men provides for the establishment of a quota of representation of each gender among senior executives and members of the governing bodies of companies with at least 1,000 employees: at least 30% women in 2027, and 40% in 2030.
For Laurence Garnier, LR rapporteur of the text in the Senate, this text “brings progress in the service of women’s rights and a world of work more representative of our society”. Starting in 2030, companies will have two more years to become compliant. Financial penalties may apply in the event of failure thereafter. In a logic of “name and shame” (name and blame), these companies will also have to publish each year on the site of the Ministry of Labor the gender gaps.
« Distant ceiling »
The Copé-Zimmermann law allowed women to occupy in 2019 43.6% of the seats of directors in the 120 largest listed companies, against only a little more than 26% in 2013. But the executive committees and in 2019, the management committees of these companies were only composed of 19% women, according to the High Council for equality between women and men. “The glass ceiling between the governing bodies of companies and the boards of directors has unfortunately remained perfectly hermetic and wage inequalities remain persistent”, noted the Minister in charge of Equality, Elisabeth Moreno.
For centrist Brigitte Devésa, the bill “is not a form of interference in corporate governance (…) It is simply a matter of ensuring that the republican principles of equality, equity and meritocracy also apply in the company ”.
The deputies had given a final green light on Monday to this bill, pushed by the boss of deputies “walkers”, Christophe Castaner, and developed in Parliament since last spring. In addition to the quotas, the text includes “diversity objectives” in the support of the companies of the public bank BpiFrance. It also aims to “fight against gender bias” in professional choices, notably through an “equality index” in higher education establishments, and more diversity in admission juries. Women only represent 26% of the workforce in engineering schools.
To prevent economic violence within the couple, it provides for the obligation to pay wages and individual social benefits into a bank account of which the employee is the holder or joint holder. It also aims to facilitate the reception in crèche for children from single-parent families, paid for by women in 85% of cases. The beneficiaries of the shared child education service, again predominantly women, will have access to training actions.
These provisions “make it possible to support women removed from employment following their maternity leave and to help them reintegrate into the professional world”, underlined Elisabeth Moreno. The text was voted on for the last time by the Senate unanimously, with the Communist majority CRCE group abstaining. “At times we have to move forward as a group”, underlined the socialist Laurence Rossignol, saying to measure “the road which still remains to be covered, the resistance that there will also be tomorrow to the implementation of the law”.