“Behind the declarations of intent, the current text shows a weak political commitment”

Awhile everyone applauds, no one seems to be considering the details of the bill aimed at accelerating economic and professional equality adopted at first reading by the National Assembly on May 12. It is incontestably established that women are not very present among the top executives of French companies, less than 20%.

The laudable and necessary intention of wanting to pursue equality in this area must be translated into effective tools. However, behind the declarations of intent, the current text shows a weak political commitment and includes considerable gaps in its drafting. The text aims to impose a threshold of 30% of women within the governing bodies and senior executives on companies employing at least 1,000 employees.

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Remember that in France, according to figures from INSEE, companies with fewer than 250 people alone employ almost one in two employees. According to the statements of Elisabeth Borne, Minister of Labor during the parliamentary debates, this threshold would be justified by the fact that there would be almost no senior executive in VSEs and SMEs. This is how the latter declared, on May 12: “Senior executives are less present in companies with 50 to 1,000 employees, especially in very small businesses and SMEs. “

Quotas, little impact

This assertion is false. Already fifty years ago, when the tertiarisation of the economy was much less advanced than today, the work of the sociologist and economist Guy Roustang showed that we found approximately the same percentage of senior executives in companies of 100 employees than in companies with 1,000 or more employees. Obviously, therefore, companies with less than 1,000 employees have senior executives.

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The hope that introducing quotas in large companies will have an effect on the lower strata is wrong. The report on the proposal itself states that the introduction of quotas on boards of directors in 2011 did not have the effect of “Runoff” expected on the feminization of senior positions.

It is therefore very likely that the introduction of quotas in a tiny part of French companies will have no impact on the overall presence of women in positions of responsibility. It was hoped that the bill would include a reform of the Egapro index, given the multiple criticisms of its calculation methods and its too light sanction.

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