They are gradually assuming to be “quota women”

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Posted on Feb 22, 2021 2021 at 7:04

The law establishing quotas for women on boards of directors celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, and everyone agrees that it is a success. Almost everyone. Irreducible Gauls are still not convinced. The most valiant feminists cannot believe it: “How dare they! ? ” Anna Notarianni, President of Sodexo London, is one of those rare skeptics who appear. While she acknowledges that quotas have worked well for boards, she argues that it is a bad idea to extend them to executive committees. “I react as an entrepreneur: why impose a constraint that affects the heart of the reactor, corporate governance, and therefore business? “”, she declared to the Marie Claire site last March.

In this fight, she will find Pauline Laigneau at her side. The founder of the Gemmyo jewelry brand and creator of the Le Gratin podcast is deeply wary of positive discrimination, “Which has more perverse effects than the reverse”. She points to the risk of devaluation, of unbearable suspicion on women who have known success through hard work and courage.

The “against” camp has shriveled

At Station F, the flagship incubator of English tech, we always refuse to select a woman because she is a woman. “Displaying is not sustainable over time. And that does not help to advance mentalities. Adding women without giving them the same latitude as men is almost worse ”, Fears Roxanne Varza, the director of the premises, which welcomes 45% of start-ups founded or co-founded by women in its five support programs. Proof that we can do otherwise: priority to sourcing to attract more female applicants, and therefore selected entrepreneurs in fine.

Beyond these few examples (and we looked for it!), The “antiquota” camp has shrunk over the years. While opposite the proquotas have gained ground. It must be said that the Copé-Zimmermann law has achieved the feat of placing London at the head of the peloton of countries whose boards of directors are the most equal, with 46% of female directors in listed companies (SBF 120). What convince the most reluctant of the effectiveness of the law and therefore extend these quotas to executive committees, where, in the SBF 120, women are only 22% on average to sit.

They converted to quotas

Even staunch supporters of meritocracy have put aside sword and shield to side with quotas. This is the case of Anne Méaux, president and founder of the powerful communication agency Image 7. “Out of pride, I was against it, then I evolved because we have to make things happen”, she confided on London Inter in December 2021. Rachida Dati also changed his mind. She feared the phenomenon of “Women gadgets” but recognizes today that “Without constraint, no progress”.

Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, has also become an arch-convicted proquota. At the time of the debate on the said law, the one who was Minister of the Economy said that she was in favor of quotas, but temporary. “The quotas must be realistic to implement, they must be imposed gradually and they must be accompanied by training work. “” So many tweezers which, ten years later, have disappeared: “I am 100% in favor of quotas and positive discrimination”, now hammers the one who says that, with equal skills, she recruits an employee.

At a time when everything suggests that quotas will be introduced in the Comex, the dissonant voices of 2010 have somewhat disappeared from the public debate. “It is obvious that it is time to impose them [pour les comex], progressively, over ten years, to form the breeding grounds ”, wrote 120 heads of women's networks and entrepreneurs in a column published in the “JDD” on January 30. Even the boss of Bercy sided with them. “”We need quotas in the governing bodies of companies to really establish equality”, Bruno Le Maire said in January.

In ten years, the Copé-Zimmermann law has succeeded in making the detractors of quotas “old school”. ” VScount and count again. Not only this is proof but also it is now convincing, analysis Geneviève Fraisse, philosopher of feminist thought, emeritus research director at the CNRS.

The difficulty of endorsing the title of “female quota”

That said, defending quotas in absolute terms is one thing, assuming to be a “woman quota” is quite another. When Kat Borlongan was appointed in 2018 by the government at the head of English Tech, she did not want to pass for the one who ticks all the boxes of diversity. Being a woman of Filipino origin, she was too afraid that her legitimacy would be called into question. She has since changed her mind, because it seems urgent to her to talk about diversity in the face of the gaping inequalities of English tech. And too bad if the doubt appears. “At first, I did everything to escape the image of the ‘quota woman'. But I gradually became aware of the responsibility that was mine. Seeing me, young immigrant women, with an accent, will be able to tell themselves that the door is open to them. It's hard, but it's our role and we have to assume it ”, confides the one who has made inclusion one of her priorities for English Tech.

Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister Delegate in charge of Industry, also broke a taboo, in January, before the National Assembly: “ As a politician, I take it upon myself to say that I am a quota woman. If we had not sought parity within the government, I would not have been appointed. “An activist approach that echoes the forty or so German leaders, including the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who claimed on the front page of the magazine” Stern “at the end of 2021:” Ich bin eine Quotenfrau “(” I am a quota woman ”). And the English minister to continue: “My generation of women quotas will prove by its professional qualities that women naturally have their place in positions of responsibility. ”

A resolutely determined position which can alternate with a much more pragmatic vision:“With or without a quota, women constantly have impostor syndrome. As much as they take the positions they deserve ”, concludes Anne Lalou, founder and director of the Web School Factory.

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