La French Tech has a feminine pronoun but it is actually very masculine. Just look at the Next 40: there is no woman at the head of a start-up. The FT 120 does a little better with 14 female co-founders. To make the ecosystem more equal, the French Tech mission brought together some thirty start-ups a few weeks ago around brainstorming workshops that gave birth to the “parity pact”. To date, 69 French FT 120 start-ups, including 15 unicorns, have signed this charter, which includes five commitments.
The first establishes a quota of 20% of women on the boards of directors (CA) of start-ups within three years, then 40% in 2028. This measure recalls the Copé-Zimmermann law of 2011 which had set a quota of 40% of women on the board of directors of companies with more than 500 employees by 2017. “We know that it worked. We even reached 45%, which is a world record,” enthuses Clara Chappaz, director of the French Tech mission.
Beyond the Parental Act
Some boast of already ticking this box, like the health insurer Alan, which also welcomed Lubomira Rochet, former digital director of L’Oréal, to its board at the end of 2021. This quota is pushed by the leaders of the start-ups but also by their investors. “ We are currently in full swing and it is very well perceived”, confides Elsa Darquier-Fournier, former HRD of Brut and since in charge of Brut Shop, joint venture created with Carrefour on live shopping.
“ We organized a panel with venture capital funds and the themes of parity and diversity are now central to their thesis. They have pressure from their own investors,” says Clara Chappaz.
Other commitments of the signatories: train 100% of managers on the challenges of diversity and the fight against discrimination and harassment by the end of 2022, make job descriptions more inclusive and set up a joint team of speech (external internet)
Last more atypical commitment: set up before the end of 2022 specific support for each employee upon return from parental leave. “When a woman comes back from maternity leave, she goes back to the same job, but everything has changed. We must welcome her as if we were rehiring her,” explains Charles Gorintin. A collective of French Tech entrepreneurs had already committed at the beginning of 2020 to the extension to one month of leave for the second parent with the Parental Act. Measure adopted a year and a half later by the government.
Towards diversity issues
The signatories can of course put in place other measures to go even further. During the workshops led by the French Tech mission, several avenues of work were mentioned, such as the reception each year of at least one student from 3e in internship by department and the commitment of a recruitment process “ proactive” to identify female profiles.
“By creating a breath of fresh air to encourage more vocations and by correcting the “boys club” side of tech, we will attract more women. So that in five or ten years, we will have a healthier recruitment environment,” said Charles Gorintin, co-founder of Alan. “ The objectives will be progressively more ambitious”, specifies Clara Chappaz.
The subject of diversity will one day come to the table. Some start-ups have already taken it up, such as Brut, which banned cooptation for two years and stopped paying the “learning tax to elite schools that do not play the game”, says Elsa Darquier-Fournier. Beyond French Tech, another ecosystem must evolve.
Other avenues of work:
Set up a cross-mentoring system for female managers by FT120/Next40 leaders
· Create partnerships with schools and retraining institutes specializing in the integration of women
· Set up a partnership system with private crèches, for all employees