Quotas for women in company management: the text adopted by the Assembly


A bill for “real economic and professional equality” was voted unanimously by the National Assembly at first reading on the evening of Wednesday 12 May.

Considered at first reading, the bill for a “ real economic and professional equality Was adopted without difficulty at first reading by the National Assembly on Wednesday 12 May. The flagship measure of this proposal, carried by the deputy LREM and head of the delegation for gender equality Marie-Pierre Rixain, is the establishment of quotas for women in the governing bodies of large companies. The text was adopted unanimously by the 61 votes cast. It must now be sent to the Senate.

Marie-Noëlle Battistel (PS) would have “liked to go faster and further”, and at LFI Mathilde Panot would have preferred a “more ambitious” text, but both supported the advances contained in the proposal. On the right, Laurence Trastour-Isnart (LR) also underlined that the text “Allows us to continue working on equality between men and women”. This endorsement from all the benches provoked tears of emotion in the deputy Marie-Pierre Rixain (LREM), president of the delegation for women’s rights in the Assembly, which carried this text. “The quota sometimes raises concerns but it is necessary” for “Catching up with a delay linked to deeply rooted inequalities in mentalities”, insisted Elisabeth Moreno, Minister responsible for Equality between women and men, who spoke in the hemicycle “A society which remains patriarchal, sexist and discriminating in many ways”.

40% of women in 2030

Article 7 indeed provides that companies with more than 1000 employees must have a proportion of at least 30% of women among “senior executives and members of governing bodies“In 2027, and 40% in 2030.”The quota is sometimes a cause for concern, but it is necessary ” in “a society that remains patriarchal, sexist and discriminating in many ways »Insisted Elisabeth Moreno, Minister in charge of Equality between women and men present in the hemicycle. Ten years after the Copé-Zimmermann law, which had set quotas of 40% of women on company boards, the measure is generally agreed, even if certain difficulties appear as regards its implementation.

The directors have mandates which facilitates their renewal, this is not the case for the management of companies, underlines Jean-François Copé who followed the debates with attention. This is a fundamental difference. We will have to be very pragmatic and leave a lot of backing to companies because we cannot separate ourselves from people whose skills are essential. We must not have a law out of step with economic reality.

The refusal may lead to a penalty for companies of up to 1% of the payroll. Note that a two-year compliance period is foreseen. The amount is however judged “disproportionate»By Jean-René Cazeneuve, member of the majority group. “The fine of 1% of the payroll is objectively very high. But if we want it to work, we have to be a little firm“, Considers for his part Jean-François Cope who remembers the strong reluctance of the employers when he brought the law with Marie-Jo Zimmermann in 2011.

Other technical measures

While Article 7 has taken the spotlight, the bill provides for other measures capable of ensuring gender equality in the workplace. For example, a system of quotas in the selection boards for higher education is planned, as well as precise statistical monitoring of the distribution of genders by sector. “It’s a slightly bureaucratic response to a great cause», Confides Stéphane Viry, spokesperson for the Les Républicains group in the Assembly. “All young women and men in our country must be allowed to make their professional choices without coming up against any gender stereotype.», Defended Marie-Pierre Rixain, the rapporteur of the law.

A device to help single-parent families is also planned, since 85% of them are women, which is a real obstacle to their employment. A quota of places is thus reserved in nurseries and reception establishments for young children in order to relieve the unemployed who engage in the active search for a job. Another notable point, the text aims to support female entrepreneurship, by giving gender diversity objectives to the Public Investment Bank (BPI) in its action of supporting the creation of businesses.

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