Nordic countries are a role model for the progress of women’s rights. On the Gender Gap by Country ranking of the World Economic Forum, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland respectively hold the first, second, third and fourth position. France aims at catching up with Nordic countries. In the past few weeks, France has known several turning points on the path to gender equality. These are aligned with the International Strategy on Gender Equality (2018-2022) determined by the French government.    

The Gender Equality Index to evaluate companies’ gender equality performances 

Finally, since the 1st of March all companies with more than a thousand employees ought to publish a report called the Gender Equality Index. The Labour Ministry set the guidelines to write this report which aims at evaluating the performance of the companies on tackling gender inequality issues. Essentially, each company receive a grade out of a 100. This grade is calculated according to points attributed to different elements. For example, salary equality for the same position occupied grants 40 points, if perfectly achieved; the comparison of pay rise and promotion according to gender brings 15 points each etc. Companies getting a mark below 75 out a 100 will be given 3 years to fix the imbalance. If the inequalities persist then the company will receive a financial fine calculated proportionally to the number of employees.  

Another key measure that had to be implemented since 2017 is the Copé-Zimmermann bill. This bill introduced a quota of 40% for the under-represented gender of boards for companies which have more than 500 employees and a net sales revenue of more than €50M. This has enabled French companies to reach the best percentage of female representation on boards in Europe with an average of 44.2%. 

Read more : European Women on Boards - Ethics & Board Index 2018

The French language is evolving to bring down stereotypes 

On the 28th of February, l’Académie Française, which is the institution created to protect the French language, allowed the feminisation of job titles. All nouns in French are categorised as either a feminine or masculine noun. Until this decision, most job titles were masculine nouns. This change will help to combat the issue of gender-stereotyped jobs. 

The Gender Equality Advisory Council of the G7 meets in Paris 

Within the framework of the G7, the Gender Equality Advisory Council gathered at the Palace of Elysée on the 19th of February. The President Macron, who is currently holding the Presidency of the G7, has decided to focus on issues of inequality during its mandate. Therefore, it was obvious that a conversation upon gender inequality had to be organised.  Several key actors of the cause coming from a wide range of horizons (CEO of companies or international organisation, activists, academics, Nobel Prize laureates) attended the event. The main topics discussed were the protection of women from all forms of violence, access to education for girls, and women’s economic empowerment. At the end of the meetings, the Council provided advice, a legislative package and guidelines for good practices for the enhancement of Women’s Right. 

Read more: Gender Equality, a G7 Priority

These different actions show that France is definitely engaged in gender equality. Many more topics to reach better gender equality are now being brought up in the public sphere, such as strengthening paternity leave or revaluating sexual harassment law.