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Paris fined for recruiting too many women

The city government of Paris has been dealt an unlikely punishment: a fine of 90,000 euros, equivalent to $110,000, for appointing too many women to senior positions and breaking France’s gender-equality rules. France’s Public Service Ministry has fined the Paris city authorities for employing too many women in senior positions in 2018. The appointments breached a law passed to maintain a gender balance.

A 2013 law, meant to ensure that women get better access to senior jobs in the civil service, requires a minimum of 40% of appointments for each gender. Since then, the law has been amended to provide exceptions to nominations when the gender balance is respected overall. The offence dates back to 2018 when Mayor Anne Hidalgo appointed 11 women and five men to her senior team at a time when administrations around the world were trying to increase female representation in governments. But with 69% of the positions going to women and 31% to men, Paris broke national government rules to promote equality, which requires that at least 40% of new positions should be allocated to each gender.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s mocking response after being told she had broken the law by naming too many women to senior posts. “I am happy to announce we have been fined,” Hidalgo, of the Socialist party, said during the council meeting on Tuesday. “The management of the city hall has, all of a sudden, become far too feminist.”

She decried the fine as “unfair” and “dangerous”, adding that France should “speed up the tempo” in promoting women as the gender pay gap is “still very great”.

France’s Public Service Minister Amelie de Montchalin noted in a tweet that the 2013 law had been repealed. In August 2019, a law was passed exempting precisely what happened in Paris – hiring more women than men or vice versa – except in only affects cases from June 2019 onwards. Montchalin vowed that the fine collected from Paris city hall – which still applies as the 2018 hiring was done before the law was changed – would be spent on “concrete actions” to improve gender parity in the country.

Ms Hidalgo told a meeting of the city council on Tuesday that the appointments helped give women a louder voice in government in France and, with tongue in cheek, said she was delighted to pay the fine. “In Paris, we are doing everything to make it a success, and I am very proud of a large team of women and men who together carry this fight for equality,” Ms Hidalgo said.

She asked Paris councillors – including those in the opposition – along with her deputies and “all the women of the general secretariat” to accompany her when presenting the £81k payment. “France is still lagging behind” when it comes to hiring women in management positions, Hidalgo said.

By Karishma Gwalani

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