It's a commonly held perception that the fashion industry is dominated by women. But if you look at the upper levels of the business side, this is far from the case. At LVMH, for instance, women currently make up only 17 percent of the executive board and 30 percent of the executive committees at different divisions, says Chantal Gaemperle, LVMH’s executive vice-president of human resources. This is still far above average, though: A recent study by the European Commission showed that a mere 12 percent of board members at Europe’s largest companies are women, and fewer than 3 percent of chief executive officers are female.
Many EU members are pushing for gender equality in upper management positions, especially since women account for 60 percent of university graduates in Europe (it's about the same in the U.S.). France actually passed a law requiring all large companies to have at least 40 percent female representation on their boards by 2017. Yesterday, LVMH announced a pledge to increase the proportion of women on its corporate boards to 30 percent by 2015 and to 40 percent by 2020. Creating an adequate gender balance at the top tiers of company management clearly has nothing to do with a lack of qualified, talented females and mostly to do with proper recruiting; several of LVMH's top divisions are run by women, including Pucci and Givenchy couture. Moreover, reducing the gender imbalance will probably gain momentum as women watch their peers successfully climb the corporate ladder. It's too bad that such changes must be spearheaded by quotas, but perhaps necessary.
LVMH in Pledge to Women [WWD]