CAC40: The True Annual Report

Men Still Dominate Leadership Positions

Given how much France’s corporate heavyweights like to talk about gender diversity, it would seem to be high on their list of priorities. But if we actually look at who holds leadership or senior positions in these companies, there is again a big gap between theory and reality.

En 2019, the proportion of women in France’s CAC40 corporate workforce was just over 38%. 32.6% held senior positions, but they were only 18.8% in executive committees. Only one woman out of forty was Chair of the Board of Directors: Sophie Bellon of Sodexo in 2019 (and, since July 2020, Angeles Garcia-Poveda of Legrand, while Sodexo has since left the CAC40). Only one woman was given the role of CEO in a CAC40 company in 2019: Engie’s Isabelle Kocher, who has since been dismissed. Not a single woman holds this role in 2020. Women are better represented on boards (43.4%), but this is explained by the fact that French law requires that at least 40% of board members be women.

The situation is only very slowly improving when it comes to executive committees, with female representation at just 16% in 2018 (13.9% in 2017). In addition, five companies on the CAC40 don’t have a single woman on their executive committee: ArcelorMittal, Bouygues, EssilorLuxottica, ST Micro and Vivendi. Two of these companies – Vivendi and Essilor – have more women in their overall workforce. This is also the case at Axa and BNP Paribas, where women are heavily outnumbered by men on executive committees, with only 7.7% and 10.5% of women on executive committees respectively. No CAC40 company has a majority of women on its executive committee. The company that comes closest is Danone with 42.9% of women, followed by Dassault Systèmes (38.5%) and Air Liquide (35.7%).

This article in an excerpt, translated from the French, from Chapter 5 of "CAC40: le véritable bilan annuel 2020". More about this publication here. French original here.