In 2013, France decided to strike un petit blow against the patriarchy.
No more could top positions be filled with sclerotic white males and/or future sclerotic white males. Instead, only 60 percent of management could be of one gender. As for those elsewhere on the gender spectrum, well, I’m sure the Fifth Republic will catch up with you sometime soon, assuming they haven’t already.
The move was purportedly done to ensure gender parity. A noble cause — except that’s not really what it was about, since the only reason most of us know about the regulation is that it’s caused an international furor because Paris’ mayor got fined for appointing too many women to senior roles.
According to AFP, Socialist Anne Hidalgo said $110,100 fine for her 2018 staffing decisions was “absurd.”
And yet, there it was — her new management hires consisted of 11 women, five men. That’s 69 percent female.
“I am happy to announce that we have been fined,” she said during a City Council meeting Tuesday after France’s public service ministry levied the penalty. AFP described her as saying “that she had been filled with joy when she learned of the penalty.”
Before some of you seize on a certain word in the past few paragraphs and assume Hidalgo is some sort of radical, realize that the Socialist Party is pretty much the only viable vehicle on France’s left. It’s basically their Democratic Party — and while it’s certainly not going to win any awards as a voice of moderation in the European political landscape, she’s hardly out of the ordinary.
And to Hidalgo, having 11 females and five males seems perfectly fine because, well, turnabout’s fair play.
11 femmes, 5 hommes… La Ville de Paris a été condamnée à 90.000 euros d’amende parce que trop de femmes directrices ont été nommées.
Avec mes adjointes, les directrices et les présidentes de groupe, nous irons donc porter ce chèque à la Ministre de la Fonction publique. pic.twitter.com/yMDAeH86eS
— Anne Hidalgo (@Anne_Hidalgo) December 15, 2020
“The management of the city hall has, all of a sudden, become far too feminist,” Hidalgo said.
“This fine is obviously absurd, unfair, irresponsible and dangerous,” she said.
Is it because her decision to hire a staff that skewed inordinately female was the result of the best possible candidates filling the positions? If that were the case, this would be merely an example of cruel irony.
That’s not quite what it sounds like, though, since Hidalgo said women must be promoted with “vigor because the lag everywhere in France is still very great.”
“Yes, to one day achieve parity, we must speed up the tempo and ensure that more women are appointed than men,” she said.
So, in no uncertain terms, this was about discrimination — just discrimination we’re supposed to like. #Girlboss!
And just in case you were concerned, the mayor, who was re-elected this year, needn’t worry about fines in the future.
According to the BBC, French Public Service Minister Amélie de Montchalin tweeted that the laws had been changed from 2019 onward. Now, so long as there’s an overall gender balance achieved within an organization, you can hire a glut of women or men to new positions. Go to town — just so long as the gender balance isn’t thrown off.
That’s not quite what Hidalgo seems to want, though, at least judging by her quotes.
After all, if you throw off the gender balance to ensure that historical wrongs are righted, why should that matter? Speed up the tempo, mes amis! If your career needs to hit a speed bump or three to address historical wrongs — well, just be assured it’s for the greater good.
Well, thankfully, the money the city will fork over for violating laws against gender parity by hiring too many women in public servant roles will be spent to promote getting more women into public servant roles. In a message to Hidalgo, Montchalin said that “the fine paid by Paris for 2018 to finance concrete actions to promote women in the public service. I invite you to the ministry to discuss them.”
In short, the fine is hardly the only thing “absurd” here.
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