French plan to force gender equality on boardrooms
Jean-François Copé, president of the majority UMP party, said it could give a "much-needed electro-shock" to the French corporate world, long considered a bastion reserved for the male elite in which only 10.5% of board members in CAC 40 (French stock market index) companies are female.
Referring to France's move in 2000 to encourage gender equality in politics, he said: "We must do to companies what we did in the public domain a few years ago and impose parity."
The proposals, which would also apply to state-owned companies and non-listed firms with supervisory boards, will be debated next month and would need the approval of both houses of parliament to become law.
Despite the historically entrenched opposition of business chiefs to quotas, advocates say the bill is the result of a sea change in public attitudes towards gender equality. Over the past year a series of French figures not known for their feminist stance have spoken out in favour of quotas.