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Collective Agreements for Gender Equality – CAGE

Collective Agreements for Gender Equality

In France, it is through the negotiation of firm-level agreements that the legislator seeks to engage firms to act for gender equality. since the early 2000’s, several reforms have been enacted to better support collective bargaining in this field. The CAGE project aims at assessing the efficiency of collective bargaining on professional gender equality.

Assessing the efficiency of collective bargaining on professional gender equality.

The «Collective Agreements for Gender Equality« (CAGE) project aims at evaluating the efficiency of collective bargaining on professional gender equality. As a matter of fact, it is through the negotiation of firm-level agreements that the legislator seeks to engage firms to act for equal employment and equal pay. In this context, the objectives of the CAGE project are twofold: i) to contribute to the knowledge and the understanding of collective bargaining for workplace gender equality in French firms and of how it has evolved in relation with legislative changes; ii) to test whether this decade of legislation supporting gender equality bargaining has been effective in reducing workplace gender inequalities and to examine the circumstances in which it is the most effective. If in many countries, gender equality bargaining is seen as a main lever for equality policies, there is nevertheless a strong suspicion of lack of effectiveness of gender equality bargaining, with the idea that collective agreements might be “empty shells” because of a global context in France of strong supportive legislation with inadequate legal enforcement. Hence, it seems both research and policy relevant to provide empirical evidence but the lack of data is a first problem to solve, followed by the challenge to design quasi-experimental methods allowing to identify the causal effect of gender equality bargaining outcomes on workplace gender inequalities.

To reach our objectives and overcome these challenges, we intend to exploit the text corpora (laws, collective agreements and action plans) on professional gender equality in an innovative way, with the idea to start building a research infrastructure to assess the effectiveness of bargaining obligations and outcomes. The originality of our proposal also lies in the willingness to analyse in an integrated way combining qualitative and quantitative methods the production dynamics of texts at the employer level and their impacts on a set of gender outcome gaps. A multi-disciplinary research team is assembled for this purpose where sociology, economics and modern history are represented and interact closely. The scientific programme of the CAGE project is organised around three main interconnected tasks. Task 1 combines field work with a quantitative analysis, based on cooperation between sociologists and economists, in order to enrich the understanding of the bargaining process on gender equality in French firms, investigating the past history of the bargaining process as well as its most recent developments. Task 2, in which the whole research team is involved, analyses the content of a thousand gender equality texts (collective agreements and action plans) produced in the representative sample of establishments from the matched D@ccord-REPONSE database, and their coordination with laws and regulations and branch-level agreements. The objective of task 3 is to assess the extent to which gender equality bargaining leads to an effective reduction in gender inequalities.

The CAGE project will first provide a gender bargaining equality research infrastructure that will be opened to the research community. The methods developed in the course of the project to select and code the texts that generate social norms in the field of professional gender equality (laws, branch collective agreements, company collective agreements and action plans) could be subsequently extended to other bargaining topics and to other countries. Networking activities will be developed in the course of the project to explore these future directions for the development of the infrastructure. Stakeholders will also be associated to the project from the beginning, throughout its life course and on the occasion of networking for future developments. The CAGE project will also provide research results on the various patterns of bargaining behaviour, on their driving forces, and on how they contribute to producing texts with different characteristics. Based on these quantitative and qualitative analyses, the project will design a measurement framework for assessing the quality of collective agreements on gender equality. Further research results will aim at capturing the causal effect of gender equality bargaining on a set of outcomes. At each stage of the project, academic papers will be produced and disseminated in the scientific community and their results will be valorised in policy briefs with the aim of providing evidence to stakeholders.

The expected socio-economic impacts of this project are twofold. First, one of our key objectives is to assist public actors in reducing gender inequalities within firms. Recent developments following the Combrexelle and Badinter reports and finding their culmination in the El Khomri law could raise interest in the public debate for a better knowledge of bargaining processes and outcomes with an impact on data developments. The findings of the project could help improving the existing D@ccord database. We plan to build a network of institutional actors interested in supporting our initiative at an early phase of the project and discuss with these stakeholders the choices in our workplan, our results and future development, in particular the continuation of the CAGE research infrastructure. Second, this project is expected to result in public policy recommendations on gender equality issues as well as on bargaining obligations, enforcement mechanisms and procedures of agreements. The publication of policy briefs will contribute to the dissemination of these recommendations. The effectiveness of collective bargaining for implementing public policies within firms is a challenge for France in the coming years. The scope of collective bargaining has greatly expanded for fifteen years and is planned to further expand in the near future. Collective bargaining is intended to play a central role in the coming societal changes in France.

- Bruno A-S., Greenan N., & Tanguy J., 2018, «Do women help to bargain on gender equality? Empirical evidence from France«, 15ème conférence annuelle de la Fédération de recherche CNRS TEPP, Évaluation des politiques publiques, Université de Créteil, 26 novembre

The CAGE project aims at evaluating the efficiency of collective bargaining on professional gender equality. As a matter of fact, it is through the negotiation of firm-level agreements that the legislator seeks to engage firms to act for gender equality and, since the early 2000’s, several reforms have been enacted to better support collective bargaining in this field.

In this context, we propose a multi-disciplinary approach where sociology, economics and modern history interact closely, to achieve two main goals: (i) to contribute to the knowledge and the understanding of collective bargaining for workplace gender equality in French firms and of how it has evolved in relation with legislative changes; (ii) to test whether the last decade of legislative changes has been effective in reducing workplace gender inequalities and to examine the circumstances under which these changes have proven most effective.

To reach these objectives, we intend to exploit the text corpora on professional gender equality in an innovative way, with the idea to start building a research infrastructure allowing to assess the effectiveness of bargaining obligations and outcomes. The project plans to design a measurement framework for assessing the quality of gender equality texts and to apply it to a representative sample of texts that generate social norms in the field of professional gender equality (laws, branch collective agreements, company collective agreements and unilateral action plans). The access to the resulting database will be opened to the research community and the methods developed could be subsequently extended to other bargaining topics and to other countries.

Another originality of our proposal lies in the willingness to analyse in an integrated way combining qualitative and quantitative methods the production dynamics of texts at the employer level and their impacts on a set of gender outcome gaps. Our text corpora database will then be matched with different data sources at the firm- or establishment-level. We plan to exploit the DARES statistical database of agreements (D@ccord) to have information on the whole set of agreements concluded over the period 2006-2013. Supplementary information on personnel management policies, wage policies, the presence and the nature of employee representatives, the conduct of bargaining or the existence of collective disputes within establishments will be gathered by matching D@ccord with the REPONSE surveys conducted in 2005 and 2011. The characteristics of the establishments in terms of wage distribution, workforce composition or worker flows will be available through the DADS files (Déclarations Annuelles de Données Sociales) over the 2006-2013 period. At last, we will extract information on access to training broken down by gender and occupation using the 24-83 fiscal record over the same period of study.

This will allow us to better know the contextual elements of the gender equality bargaining and to analyse quantitatively dynamics of texts’ production processes. We will establish a taxonomy of the different gender equality bargaining configurations and then conduct fieldwork to examine in depth the bargaining processes in each of the identified categories of bargaining situations. In the course of this work, we plan to associate a network of institutional actors and stakeholders involved in collective bargaining.

Our data base will also allow us to analyse the effect of bargaining outcomes on a set of measures of gender inequalities, in terms of wages, access to employment or training incidence. In this respect, we will address carefully the identification issues, to assess precisely the causal effect of the incidence and content bargaining outcomes on gender inequalities.

Project coordinator

Madame Nathalie Greenan (Conservatoire national des arts et métiers)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

CHS Centre d'histoire sociale du XXe siècle
CITERES Cités territoires environnement et sociétés
GAINS Groupe d’Analyse des Itinéraires et des Niveaux Salariaux
Clersé Centre Lillois d'Etudes et de Recherches Economiques et Sociologiques
Cnam Conservatoire national des arts et métiers

Help of the ANR 264,461 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2016 - 36 Months

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