French bill seeks gender parity on boards

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party yesterday introduced a Bill into the French Parliament which seeks to ensure gender balance in boards of directors within five years, with an interim target of 20% within 18 months.

The Bill provides for a gradual implementation of the obligation for gender parity on boards of directors of listed companies. It is expected to be placed on the agenda of the French Parliament on 18 January 2010.

The proposals may impose an even stricter requirement on gender balance than in Norway, where similar legislation provides that boards should include at least 37.5% of each gender. The Norwegian requirements are based on the size of the board, and many boards are required to comprise at least 37.5% of each gender.

At present the proportion of female directors at CAC 40 companies, according to the latest Manifest data, is 1.18% for executives and 10.8% for non-executive directors. Overall, female directors represent 9.5% of all directors at CAC 40 companies.

Companies will also be required to include in the annual report a special section discussing gender diversity.

Further Reading

Financial Times

Les Echos

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