Back to Listing

To Quota (her) or not to Quota (her)

07 September 2011

At a business lunch I attended recently the topic inevitably turned to why so few women existed in senior management and board roles. QBE Chair, Belinda Hutchinson was the only woman chair on the panel alongside three men. I was surprised, when she expressed her own view that she did not support gender quotas as a method of increasing the number of women in management. Her argument: progress was being made and gender disclosure rules were effecting change.
The issue around gender quotas, say some, is that it has the potential to devalue or call into question the entitlement or capabilities of those who have been promoted. While this concern is real for those who have fought hard to reach to the top, for me it seems cold comfort to the many talented women still slogging it out in middle management.
Do gender quotas help or harm women?  What do you think?

Jeannene O’Day writes for the Daily Gloss (dailygloss.com) under the pseudonym BizGirl. Having worked in the male dominated finance industry since 1990, Jeannene’s ponderings are drawn from her experiences in Hong Kong, Japan and Australia where over the years she has worked as an executive in Corporate Finance, Institutional Broking and Asset Management. It seems that even her years working two stints on high testosterone institutional investor dealing desks were not quite enough to prepare her for life as a mother of two sons.  Apart from her passions for family, food and fashion, Jeannene is an avid supporter of diversity and women in the workplace.

 

 

Quotas V Targets - Louise Upton

The issue around gender quotas, say some, is that it has the potential to devalue or call into question the entitlement or capabilities of those who have been promoted.

At a recent lunch at which Gail Kelly spoke, the word ‘quotas’ was described as a strategy that forced businesses to meet levels of inclusion without regard for the autonomy of those businesses. No one wants to be dictated to, do they?

Targets, which allow a business to develop what it needs as well as develop how these needs are to be met – and which are not forced from the outside onto the business – was portrayed as a better strategy.

Targets require people to set them and hit them. Ask any darts player, hitting a target requires practice and skill. Is business up to it?

Quotas have their cons but they circumvent our natural tendency to steer clear of change. Targets demand we take change on board and make it happen. Many people would argue that’s not a bad thing because we don’t embrace change enough... but it’s that inability in ourselves which is worrying when it comes to meeting gender targets.

Quotas circumvent another underlying problem we all have: unconscious bias.

Tell me if I’m wrong?

Share