Feminization of boards: towards a better professional equality between men and women in French boards of directors ?

Feminization of Jobs : to be improved within management committees and executive committees

In 2022, are positions of responsibility still given based on the gender of candidates? Not so sure! An improvement in professional equality has clearly emerged in boards of directors since 2011, with the enactment of the Copé-Zimmerman law. But, despite this balance of quotas, jobs’ feminization could still be improved, especially within management and executive committees… Thanks to the support and advice of direct approach recruitment firms.

In the 60s, Business Schools were largely composed of men. Historically, a relatively privileged audience could enter business and engineering schools. We had to wait until the 70s for the proportion of women to almost reach the proportion of men. Since then, laws on the subject of discrimination against women in hiring have been introduced. For example, in 2011, the Copé-Zimmermann law propelled the feminization of jobs by setting up quotas in the boards of directors and supervisory boards. The objective was to increase parity in positions of high responsibility and to reduce the inequality of salary treatment in organizations.

“Thanks to the quotas for women on boards of directors and supervisory boards, the large listed companies in the CAC 40 (44.6%) and SBF 120 (43.6%) have been successful. And in ten years, the progress is spectacular for CAC 40 companies: in 2009, 10% and 2019, 44%,” notes the report of the High Council for Equality between Women and Men (HCE), published in 2019. We can then note a continuous improvement in the feminization of boards, to almost reach parity in 2019.

Graph of the evolution of women on administrative and supervisory boards, from 2009 to 2013
Percentage of women on the boards of directors ans supervisory boards of CAC40 compagnies, since 2009, and SBF10, since 2013. Source : Ethics & Board en 2019

Ten years later, the Copé-Zimmermann law had been congratulated by the Ministry of Labor: the results are there, France has slipped to first place on the podium within the European Union. 

What about comex?

Gender diversity is in place, but it is not going at the same pace in all sectors. What can be analyzed is that women are more often enrolled in so-called “support” functions, such as marketing & communication, legal or even human resources. They are under-represented in financial or sales positions. 

More recently, the “Rixain” law, adopted in 2021 and effective in March 2022, invites companies to go even further as it allows the implementation of several measures, including the respect of a balanced distribution of men and women among their top management… For example, a quota of 30% of women in management positions must be applied from March 2026 and the rate will increase to 40% in 2029. Today, women would only represent 24% of high position jobs in all COMEX of SBF120 companies.

Boards’ feminization under certain conditions

The challenge is to keep the best profiles, no matter their gender. The problem is that women have been penalized for a long time in some companies, between salary inequalities and motherhood pressure. Lots of women did not feel fully integrated and preferred to leave their job for a more inclusive and accommodating structure.

It is fundamental that companies take into consideration the constraints unconsciously imposed on women and reinvent their operating methods. As we know, a real war for talent has broken out in the market and taking the risk of losing a talent upsets the well-being of the whole company. 

If companies want to keep their female talents, they will have to innovate and review their operating methods: adapt their managerial culture, modify women’s trajectories by making them more flexible, alternate levels and ascending phases, these issues are essential to be able to feel at one’s place and considered in the organization.

Why trust Fitch Bennett Partners ?

To fairly correct this imbalance, solutions can be considered. To reflect and adopt a consulting posture in the recruitment strategy, Fitch Bennett Partners accompanies organizations. 

Our firm deals with these societal issues on a daily basis and our support to clients in their recruitment process leads us to conduct inclusive recruitment strategies. Neutrality has always been one of our values in presenting talent, both male and female. And this, without any salary distinction for equivalent experience and the same level of training.

We are available to meet your needs