Morocco

Courtney Cox Associate
Paul Hastings (Atlanta)

Global rankings and national statistics suggest that universal gender equality remains unrealized in Morocco.  According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, Morocco ranked among the worst countries for gender parity in economic participation, education, health, and political empowerment—ranking 136 out of 144 countries.1 And while women make up 50% of the population and 47% of the tertiary education enrollment, they only represent 26% of the labor force.

Despite that sobering quantitative reality, there have been notable achievements in the battle for gender equality in Morocco this decade.  For example, in July 2011, the Moroccan Constitution was amended to recognize equality between women and men—vowing that the state is “working to achieve parity between men and women,” and even erecting an Authority for Equality and the Control of all Forms of Discrimination to ensure that meaningful equality would be realized.3   The Moroccan Constitution also now requires that Moroccan law include provisions “likely to promote equal access for women and men to electoral functions”4 and mandates a quota system for the representation of women in the political sphere,5 reserving seats for them at the national, regional, and local government levels.6  Yet, even with these legislative achievements, gender inequality in Morocco’s business world remains rampant.

Corporate Governance Codes and Moroccan Women in the Boardroom

The Moroccan Code of Good Practice on Corporate Governance (the “Code”) was adopted by the National Commission on Corporate Government and entered into force in March 2008.  Section 3.4.1 of the Code expressly encourages companies to consider gender diversity when evaluating potential board members.  It provides:

The composition of the management board is essential to enable it to perform its role. It should be composed of members with integrity [who are] competent, informed, involved, providing diversity (training, professional experience, gender balance, age, nationality) likely to generate real debate and to avoid the systematic search of consensus.7

Companies that fail to comply with the Code are required to provide an explanation for non-compliance.  The adoption of the Code denotes an awareness of the importance of women’s voices in the boardroom and is a key step toward achieving gender parity. However, several years have passed since the Code’s adoption, and women’s presence on Moroccan corporate boards remains sparse. For example, according to a Deloitte Global Center for Corporate Governance report publicized in 2017, women represent a mere 11% of board members of Morocco’s publicly listed companies and only 7% of board members of Morocco’s state-owned companies. 

While the Moroccan Parliament has not yet enacted legislation to combat the underrepresentation of women in the boardroom, the topic of quotas has been subject to widespread debate.8  Moreover, private initiatives have increased their programs to combat gender inequality in the boardroom.  For instance, Nezha Hayat—the first woman member of Société Générale Morocco’s Executive Board and champion for women in business—founded Association des Femmes Chefs d’Entreprises du Maroc (AFEM),9 an independent professional association of women entrepreneurs in Morocco which represents women entrepreneurs at different economic institutions and serves  as a liaison between public authorities and other institutions.10 Additionally, the Moroccan Institute of Directors and the Moroccan Chapter of Women Corporate Directors have vowed to raise awareness on the issue of gender diversity in the future.11

Conclusion

While there have been serious efforts to encourage Moroccan companies to increase gender diversity in Morocco’s corporate sphere,  any meaningful representation of women in Moroccan boardrooms remains to be realized.

1 The Global Gender Gap Report 2017, World Economic Forum (2017), http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2017.pdf.

2 Yuko Morikawa, The opportunities and challenges for female labor force participation in Morocco (July 13, 2015), https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-opportunities-and-challenges-for-female-labor-force-participation-in-morocco/.

3 Specifically, Article 19 of the Moroccan Constitution provides: “Men and women enjoy equal human rights and freedoms of a civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental [nature], as set out in this and other provisions of the Constitution, and in international covenants and conventions duly ratified by the Kingdom ….  The Moroccan government is working to achieve parity between men and women.  It is created for this purpose an Authority for Equality and the Control of all Forms of Discrimination.” See Constitution of the Kingdom of Morocco 2011, art. 19 (not official translation).

4 See id. at art. 30.

5 See id. at art.146.

6 Loi organique no 27-11 relative à la Chambre des représentants [Organic Law no. 27-11 on the House of Representatives]; Loi no 36-08 modifiant et complétant la loi no 9-97 formant code électoral [Law no. 36-08 amending and supplementing Law no. 9-97, the Electoral Code].

7 See The Moroccan Code of Good Practice on Corporate Governance, at Section 3.4.1 (Mar.9 2008) (not official translation).

8 Ahlam Nazih, Competence & RH – Femmes cadres: Ce qu’elles en pensent, L’Economiste (June 2, 2018), https://www.leconomiste.com/article/1023731-femmes-cadres-ce-qu-elles-en-pensent.

9 Larbi Arbaoui, Top 10 Influential Moroccan Businesswomen, Morocco World News (Nov. 23, 2014), https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2014/11/144863/top-10-influential-moroccan-businesswomen/; AFEM, http://www.afem.ma/presentation-maroc-pionnieres/ (last visited Aug. 29, 2018).

10 AFEM, http://www.afem.ma/presentation-maroc-pionnieres/ (last visited Aug. 29, 2018).

11 Corporate Governance – Women on Boards, Int’l Fin. Corp. (Apr. 2014), https://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/75610d004f860220bd95ff0098cb14b9/women-on-boards-handout_042013.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.