Tags: France | female | board | seats

France Mulls Female Boardroom Law

Thursday, 21 Jan 2010 01:14 AM

France set course for a revolution in its old boys’ corporate culture yesterday as parliament considered a law to force big companies to appoint women to 40 per cent of their boardroom seats.

MPs for President Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) tabled the Bill, which gives companies six years to comply, but it is broadly supported by the Government and is likely to pass into law in amended form this year.

The measure will mean an upheaval because the boards of France’s top companies remain male bastions along with those of southern Europe. Women occupy just over 10 per cent of board seats in the 650 publicly quoted companies to which the new law would apply. Some corporate giants, such as EADS, the Franco-German-dominated parent of Airbus, have no women directors. Britain’s record is not much better, with 12 per cent of board seats in big companies.

Opponents wonder where France will find enough qualified femmes d’affaires. Jean-François Copé, the UMP parliamentary leader, who is behind the Bill, pointed out that women managers were said to have handled the recent financial crisis better than men. “A business is not going to go bankrupt because it has as many women as men on the board,” he joked.

If the Bill passes, France will become the biggest state so far to use the law to break the “glass ceiling”. Norway introduced a 40 per cent rule in 2002 when women accounted for only 6 per cent of board seats there. Spain has also just passed a similar law.

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France set course for a revolution in its old boys’ corporate culture yesterday as parliament considered a law to force big companies to appoint women to 40 per cent of their boardroom seats.
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2010-14-21
 
 

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