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France Considering Gender-Based Business Quotas

A bill introduced in the French parliament last week would require all companies on the Paris Stock Exchange to ensure that 50 percent of their board members are women by 2015. According to the plan, companies would be required to have women as 20 percent of their boards within 18 months and women as 40 percent within four years, according to the Guardian UK. Currently, only 10.5 percent of board members in these companies are women.

Leading French Businesswoman Veronique Preaux-Cobti, said earlier this year that “In 2002, a huge majority would have been against [this quota legislation]…Now, after years of good will with no change, there is a real realization that things are not going to change on their own,” according to the Guardian UK.

France imposed similar gender equity quotas to the political sphere in 2000, but these quotas have yet to be reached. According to the Telegraph UK, French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party paid nearly $7.5 million in fines after the 2007 elections because parity was not imposed. After the 2007 elections, only 18 percent of parliamentarians in France’s lower house were women.

The new quota bill does not establish financial penalties for violations, but instead introduces the power to invalidate nominations and nullify board decisions that violate the law.

Sources:

Guardian UK 12/2/09; Telegraph UK 12/3/09

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