France considers gender equality plan

Women will have to make up 50% of leading French company boards, under a new proposal put forward by Nicolas Sarkozy’s Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) party.

The centre-right party wants all companies listed on the Paris stock exchange, the CACA 40, to ensure that at least half of their boardroom members are female by 2015.

Women currently only make up 10.5% of CACA 40 companies’ boards.

In a bill submitted to the French parliament this week, the UMP said that, if passed, the law would be gradually implemented. Within the first 18 months, business would be obliged to have women in 20% of board seats, increasing to 40% inside four years.

Speaking about the bill, which is based on similar measures introduced in Norway during 2006, Jean-Francois Cope, president of the majority UMP party, said: “We want to create an electro-shock.”

“We must do to companies what we did in the public domain a few years ago and impose parity,” he added.

The proposals, which will be debated next month, would also apply to state-owned companies and non-listed firms with supervisory boards. Both houses of parliament will need to approve the bill before it becomes law.

In 2002, France introduced measures to encourage gender equality in politics.


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