Gender Diversity on French Boards: Example of a Success from a Hard Law

  • Emmanuel Zenou
  • Isabelle Allemand
  • Bénédicte Brullebaut


After Norway in 2003 and Spain and Iceland in 2007, France adopted gender quotas in boards. With the Copé Zimmermann law, voted on and implemented in January 2011, listed companies and non-listed companies with revenues or total of assets over 50 million euros or employing at least 500 persons for three consecutive years have to reach a minimum of 40% of each sex on boards within a six-year period, with an intermediary level of 20% in 2014. This example of hard law seems to have worked in the French context: after the General Assemblies of 2016, the 140 biggest listed companies (with a capitalisation of more than 1 billion euros) have an average of 36.7% of women on their board. Despite some criticisms about the legitimacy of quotas, and probably due to the existence of a compulsory regulation, no strong and structured hindering forces appeared as regards the increase of female representation on boards. In this chapter, we provide a general background of French companies’ corporate governance structure, and a discussion of the national policy. Along with figures on women representation, we also provide critical reflections on the case and a short reflection from Viviane Neiter, a French practitioner, director in several French listed companies.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emmanuel Zenou
    • 1
  • Isabelle Allemand
    • 1
  • Bénédicte Brullebaut
    • 1
  1. 1.Burgundy School of BusinessDijonFrance

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