Publicly listed French companies like Pernod Ricard and Remy Cointreau may have to ensure equal numbers of men and women on their boards of directors, under a proposed new law.

Women should hold half of boardroom positions at French companies listed on the Paris Euronext stock exchange by 2015, according to a bill submitted this week to members of France's National Assembly - the lower house in the French Parliament.

Jean-François Copé, president of the UMP party, the majority party and also the political party of French president Nicolas Sarkozy, has proposed the law to improve gender equality in business.

Only around one in ten of boardroom positions in France's top 40 publicly listed companies are currently held by women, Copé said.

If passed and sanctioned by Sarkozy, a law on gender equality in boardrooms could be phased in so that 20% of seats were occupied by women within 18 months.

Pernod Ricard currently has two women on its 14-strong board of directors. Remy Cointreau has only one woman, although that is group chairperson Dominique Hériard Dubreuil.

A spokesperson for Pernod told just-drinks today (3 December): "It is difficult for us to express an opinion on this matter to the extent that for the moment it is only a proposed parliamentary law submitted by the UMP and not by the Government itself.

"We have no further information on the final text of this proposal or the position that will be adopted by the Government at the time of any future discussion."