The French Gender Equality Index: A Legislative Framework to Eliminate Gender Pay Disparities

With the recent reform on equal pay for women and men, France is the country with the most advanced legislation on gender equality in the world. We would like to focus on the recently created gender equality index applicable to all companies in France and why it matters to HBA Paris.

Gender equality has been the national worthy cause since 2017 and for the five-year presidential term. It has been identified that the gender pay gap is a major source of inequality in the workplace. In France, women are paid on average, with all positions combined, 27 percent less than men, partly because of more part-time and different type of posts for women. However, at equal position and age, the difference is still nine percent, while the principle "for equal work, equal pay" has been in the law since 1972.

The Avenir Law (loi Avenir Professionnel) of September 2018 and the compulsory calculation and publication of the Professional Equality Index aim to eliminate all gender pay disparities in France. “I am proud that France is at the forefront of workplace equality. Women and men will benefit the most in this respect, and our businesses will be all the stronger and closer-knit for it,” said Muriel Pénicaud, Minister of Labour in France.

Scoring on a total of 100 points, the index should be calculated each year based on five criteria:

  1. Wage differences between women and men (40 points)
  2. Pay increase differences between women and men (20 points)
  3. Differences in annual promotions (15 points)
  4. Pay increase upon return from maternity leave (15 points)
  5. Number of women amongst the top 10 earners of the company (10 points)

If the score is less than 75 points, the company must take action, and if there is neither corrective measures nor progress, a fine could be applied by the French government.

In France, the pharmaceutical industry is particularly attentive to the challenges of parity in recognition of 57 percent female representation of their workforce. The vast majority of scores were above 75, and even more than 90 for leaders such as Janssen France, which obtained 95/100. “We recognize the importance of supporting women and giving them the tools, resources and opportunities, they need to succeed in their careers. Women are innovators who rise to the challenges of today and invent the solutions of tomorrow. These are scientists and technology experts, mentors, mothers, industry leaders, caregivers and most importantly, drivers of the global economy that make a strong contribution to the performance of our businesses. We will maintain our commitment to continuously ensure equal pay for all our employees," says Emmanuelle Quilès, president, Janssen France.

HBA Paris keeps in mind the core purpose of the HBA to further the advancement and impact of women in the business of healthcare. The chapter is committed to contributing towards achieving gender parity in leadership positions, facilitating career and business connections and providing effective practices that enable organizations to realize the full potential of their female talent. This index helps us to monitor what is happening in terms of gender parity in the healthcare sector and serves as a platform for discussion with our corporate members.

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