Gender Diversity in Corporate Boards in France: An Analysis

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gender diversity
corporate board seats
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Govotsos, Konstantina

Since Norway passed the first quota mandate for women’s representation on corporate boards in 2003, governments have looked to gender quotas as a tool to accelerate gender equality. Though the effects in Norway were at first mixed, as the so-called “golden skirt” problem resulted in only a few women occupying multiple board seats, several European countries followed Norway’s footsteps and mandated some form of gender quotas on corporate boards. France passed the quota law of 2011 to increase women representation at the highest corporate level in the country’s largest firms. In this article, I examine the early effects of the quota. By examining board members of firms that were affected by the law (those in the CAC 40 Index) and comparing them to the slightly smaller public firms (the CAC Next 20), I find that France has thus far avoided its own ‘golden skirt’ situation: the 2011 law has resulted in a significant increase in the total number of women who hold corporate board seats. In addition, I find that the French law has had a greater impact than may have been anticipated, as firms not compelled under the 2011 law to add women to their boards have followed the path of the largest French firms and increased representation of women among directors. First, a history of gender diversity and quotas in corporate boards is provided. Then, by examining the percentages of women in different boards the papers explains the current situation in France. Finally, I point to paths for future research by proposing a more thorough analysis of the characteristics of these women.

Sara Jane McCaffrey
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