“It’s impossible, the pool of women is limited”, “How are we going to do it? “, ” Quotas ? ! Inevitably, we will lose in quality ”: remember these reflections raised by the Copé-Zimmermann law when it was promulgated. Ten years later, with a rate of women of 45.7%, France has become the world champion in the feminization of boards of directors. And the SBF 120 “boards” have, on this occasion, even gained in efficiency and professionalization.
At present, the proposed Rixain law intends to impose, within companies with more than 1,000 employees, 30% of women in 2027 then 40% in 2030 among “senior executives and members of governing bodies” (the initial text spoke of of “positions of greater responsibility”). After the National Assembly on May 12, the Senate, in turn, adopted it at first reading, with modifications, on October 27.
When we do not legislate, we find excuses. When we legislate, we find women.
Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank
Some will find it a shame to make quotas a necessary step towards executive positions, they will inevitably be opposed to this now famous quote from Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB): “When we don’t legislate, we find excuses. When we legislate, we find women ”.
Correct an imbalance fairly
On October 30 on France Inter, Catherine MacGregor, the general manager ofEngie, announced, a goal of parity in the executive committees (comex) of Engie. To correct an imbalance, it will therefore be necessary to recruit women with whom to team up within “governing bodies” which could perhaps not be limited – details are awaited on this point – to the executive committee and the management committee ( codir).
It will also involve identifying, internally, personalities with multiple qualities – operational, relational, emotional – as well as a strategic vision. And to do it in an equitable way so that men remain mobilized. Hardly simple, the task should however prove to be surmountable if we know how to demonstrate voluntarism and method.
More competitive recruitment
“There are three dimensions to take into consideration: recruit, retain and develop”, summarizes Sylvain Dhenin, partner at Heidrick & Struggle, which qualifies the future Rixain law “ demanding opportunity ”for companies. If the CAC 40 and SBF 120 players are already advanced, substantive work will have to be undertaken by mid-size companies or mid-size companies. “We should not only make appointments to so-called support functions (human resources, communication, finance, legal)”, warns the headhunter.
According to him, of the 22.7% of women in the SBF 120 executive committees, only 10% would occupy operational positions such as directors of subsidiaries. “Inevitably, companies will not fail to seek to poach the most visible of them. Notably, women ‘resist’ better than men proposals for sectors of activity that they consider unattractive. But the recruitment of such profiles will become more and more competitive. This is why we must do everything possible to retain them, ”warns Brigitte Lemercier, founder of the firm NB Lemercier.
If they do not want to discourage and ‘lose’ female talent, companies will have to reinvent the way they operate.
Sylvain Dhenin, Partner at Heidrick & Struggle
Retention is crucial. Penalizing motherhood, wage inequality, late meetings, unbalanced professional and private lives… Many women have left their companies to join more accommodating structures or have temporarily stopped working. Today, another pattern, some are acting, as if nothing had happened, husbands or partners putting their hands in the dough or simply no longer working.
“If they do not want to discourage and ‘lose’ female talents, more and more companies will have to reinvent their operating methods: adapt their managerial culture, modify the trajectories of women by making them more flexible, alternate levels and the ascending phases ”, anticipates Sylvain Dhenin.
“Flécher” of women’s courses
“The Copé-Zimmerman law of 2011 had the effect of introducing into the boards of directors female directors who did not sit on the executive committee, nor on the codir, which challenged certain CEOs and pushed them to demand that the emphasis be or focus on the development of women, ”explains Brigitte Lemercier.
More and more things are changing today. Whenever a company wants to keep female talent, it is ready to wait the necessary time
Brigitte Lermercier, Founder of NB Lemercier law firm
Result: a number of groups have started to “flag” women’s paths with regular change of function, to probe the potential of different hierarchical levels, to mentor, train, encourage the constitution of networks and especially to work for the full inclusion of women. in partnership with men. In addition, there is a mix of candidates, equal pay, transparency… “More and more, things are changing today. As soon as a company recognizes and wants to keep female talent, it is ready to wait the necessary time, ”continues the headhunter.
It is time for things to accelerate and for others to take this first place.
Méka Brunel, Chief Executive Officer of Gecina
It would therefore be wise to draw inspiration from leading companies in the field, at SBF 120 or not and of all sizes – and, from Gecina To Sodexo, Passing by L’Oreal, Lotery, AXA, Mercialys, Firmenich … There are a number of them. Number one in the ranking of the feminization of governing bodies, for the fifth consecutive year, the real estate company Gecina has encouraged companies, through the voice of its managing director, to make progress in this area: “It is time for things to accelerate and that others occupy this first place ”, declared Meka Brunel .
The experience ofAllianz France, which promotes female talent – d ‘Anne-Sophie Grouchka To Corinne Cipiere, Passing by Marie-Doha Besancenot, to name but one among many others – towards positions of responsibility a priority, is also inspiring. Another emblematic example, that of the laboratory Janssen in France. Since 2015, women represent 60% of the members of its codir. And, at the scale of the company chaired today by Delphine Aguiléra-Caron, which succeeds Emmanuelle Quilès (who takes on international responsibilities, after six years of presidency), 55% of managers and 65% of the workforce today.
Brakes and bias
Just as important as leadership development programs is awareness of the barriers and biases that penalize women. Impostor syndrome, reluctance to ask for a salary increase, or to apply for a position for which they would not immediately tick all the boxes… Sheryl sandberg remains relevant. Like that of the director of operations of Facebook, the path of women wishing to reach the highest positions remains strewn with pitfalls. And stereotypes: the most ambitious are immediately qualified as aggressive. Those who imitate men are frightening, and the others who refuse to act as dangerous seductresses.
However, we can bet that the 30 and then 40% will be reached in due time. The number one companies, which report to a board of directors composed of at least 40% of women, are already in a hurry to accelerate diversity; a criterion in this sense even entering into the composition of their bonus. From “HE for SHE” to the “Wep (Women Empowerment Principles)” of the UN, these principles of empowerment of women, through the work and meetings of Catalyst and the Women’s Forum, many global initiatives seek to “ get on board ”as many people as possible by campaigning for professional equality. Finally, we cannot repeat it enough, diversity has proven to be a source of social progress and innovation. In addition, by placing the company more in tune with society and its customers, it improves performance. Isn’t that a shocking incentive argument?
SBF 120: 13 women general managers (CEOs) or CEOs
– Valérie Baudson, CEO of Amundi
– Véronique Bédague, CEO of Nexity
– Sophie Bellon, Interim CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sodexo
– Sophie Boissard, CEO of Korian
– Christel Bories, CEO of Eramet
– Méka Brunel, CEO of Gecina
– Marie Cheval, CEO of Carmila
– Ilham Kadri, CEO of Solvay
– Catherine MacGregor, CEO of Engie (only female CEO of the CAC 40)
– Stéphane Pallez, CEO of Française des Jeux
– Caroline Parot, CEO of Europcar
– Julie Walbaum, CEO of Maison du monde
– Sophie Zurquiyah, CEO of CGG