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Lessons from Europe: How to get more women on corporate boards
U.S. companies are in a moment of self-reflection.
This new-found introspection stems in large part from the #MeToo movement, which has prompted what Fortune’s Claire Zillman recently described as a “reexamination of women’s place in the business hierarchy.”
And yet one area where corporate culture has barely shifted is company boards; in the U.S. only about 20% of directors are female.
The U.S. business world could take a lesson here from Europe, where the momentum behind adding women to boards has picked up steam.
At Fortune’s MPW International Summit in London earlier this week, women at the forefront of the push to diversify European boards shared how they’re moving the needle.
Sophie Bellon, chairwoman of the board of Sodexo; L’Oreal director
With 450,000 employees globally, the company that specializes in everything from foodservice to construction is “in the people business,” says Bellon. “Diversity is what has made us successful and how we became a leader in our industry.” At Sodexo, half of its board is comprised of women.
Bellon supports quotas for the number of women on boards because she’s “a strong believer in what gets measured gets done.” She added, “When you want a company to improve sales or profitability, you just give an objective and everyone is aligned.” This is an important topic so you have to look at it the same way, she said.
Bellon said that everything Sodexo has learned about improving gender balance has come from the U.S., where the conversation about the importance of diversity started earlier than in Europe. But she said that France, where 10 years ago only 9% of boards were comprised of women, has now leapfrogged the U.S. because of its law that 40% of board members of CAC 40 index companies must be female. The U.S. “is not moving fast enough,” she said.
Source: Fortune; by Beth Kowitt
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