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France took a new and historic step on its journey to SDG5 in May 2021, when its legislator, the National Assembly, unanimously voted in favour of quotas for women in business leadership roles, targeting 30% by 2027 and 40% by 2030, versus a current average of 17%. The new requirement applies to all French companies employing more than 1,000 staff, and will be subject to annual progress reports. The French minister of Gender Equality, Elisabeth Moreno, underlined that “this quota is necessary to offset inequalities that are deeply entrenched in mindsets, as our society still remains patriarchal, sexist and discriminatory in many respects.” The law must now pass the French Senate’s muster, likely before year’s end.

The law has teeth, as non-complying companies could be fined penalties worth up to 1% of their total salary budget. This new law comes 10 years after France set requirements for corporate boards of directors to include women, to great effect: women now represent 44.6% of corporate board members, while they only composed 20% in 2011, according to Novethic.fr.

In the meantime, in Switzerland, the latest Swiss Salary Structure Survey published by the government in February 2021 shows that gender discrimination in the workplace was on the rise from 2014 to 2018, with men earning 19% more than women for comparable roles in 2018. A law on salary equality came into force as of July 2020 for companies with more than 100 staff, but the law doesn’t mention any penalty for companies failing to measure, report on or correct any type of salary inequality.

Tim Radjy, Vice-President of SFG

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