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SKEMA Observatory study on the feminisation of companies

Published on 26 March 2020
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The annual SKEMA Observatory study on the feminisation of companies, led by Professor Michel Ferrary, affiliate researcher at SKEMA Business School, looks at the place of women in the highest echelons of business.

​The main finding of the 2020 study is that despite the progress made possible in France by the Copé-Zimmerman law, women still remain largely absent from the higher echelons of governance, namely CEO and senior management positions.

However, the study shows that a portfolio made up of companies where more than 40% of management is female has outperformed the CAC40 and the portfolio of the most masculine companies in the long term as well as during the 2008 financial crisis.

The legislative elevator towards the board of directors
The study underlines the positive effects of the Copé-Zimmerman law on the feminisation of boards of directors: On 1 January 2019, almost all CAC40 companies domiciled in France had exceeded the quota of 40% of women on their boards of directors (CAC40+20 average: 42.53%).

Exclusion from the highest echelons of governance
The SKEMA Observatory on the feminisation of companies highlighted one unequivocal result: women occupy just 3.33% of the 120 positions of CEO and/or Director General of the 60 largest companies of the CAC40+20: zero female CEOs, two women chairs of the board of directors, two female director generals.

The social exiles of the CAC40+20
These are the companies that have relocated outside France to avoid the quota of 40% of women on the board of directors imposed by the Copé-Zimmermann law.
Of the seven companies furthest away from reaching the 40% threshold, most are legally based in other countries where quotas are either less strict or do not apply. Airbus: 25% (Netherlands), TechnipFMC: 21.43% (United Kingdom), SES: 25%, ArcelorMittal: 33.33% (Luxemburg) and STMicroelectronics: 33.33% (Switzerland).

The impenetrable glass ceiling impeding access to executive boards: diversity and exclusion?
Women make up just 17.49% of executive committee members whereas they form 32.97% of the executive population, the traditional recruiting ground for senior management. The thickness of the glass ceiling is very real: 15.48%. The stability of this low representation over the years is an argument in favour of imposing quotas for women in executive boards.

Inequality Index
This index highlights companies that do the most or the least to facilitate the professional promotion of women. The study awarded the Lemon Prize (prix citron) to Hermès and the Orange Prize (prix orange) to Sodexo.

The gender polarisation of big companies
Michel Ferrary observes a growing breach between the most feminised companies (high percentage of women in the workforce and in management positions) which struggle to recruit men, and companies that are the least feminised (low percentage of women in the workforce and in management positions) which struggle to recruit women.

The Gender Equality Index outperforms the stock market performances of the CAC40 and the Male Index
A portfolio made up of companies where more than 40% of senior management is female has outperformed the CAC40 and the portfolio of the most masculine companies, both in the long term and during the 2008 financial crisis.


SEE THE FULL SKEMA OBSERVATORY 2020 STUDY 
ON THE FEMINISATION OF COMPANIES
 (in French)

Since 2007, on the initiative of its founder Professor Michel Ferrary, the SKEMA Observatory on the Feminisation of Companies has also been analysing the evolution in the percentage of women on corporate boards, executive committees, in management, and in the headcounts of France’s 60 largest private companies, namely those making up the CAC40 and CAC Next 20.

It also analyses the link between the feminisation of the different levels of hierarchy (boards of directors, executive committees, management and headcounts) within companies and the latter’s economic and financial performance (growth, profitability, stock price, etc.).
The research work conducted by the SKEMA Observatory of the Feminisation of Companies has been the subject of a number of academic publications and presentations at scientific conferences.

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