In Europe, gender quotas are old news. Other countries followed suit, including Belgium, France and Italy.
In the fifth instalment of an occasional series featuring two experts debating a hot topic for students, Ruth Sealy, senior lecturer in organisational psychology at City Universityin the UK, and Michel Ferrary, professor of management at Skema Business School in France and University of Geneva in Switzerland, share their views on the need for quotas to improve gender equality on company boards.
Inwith the threat of EU gender boardroom quotas growing ever louder, the previous UK government commissioned a review into women on boards. Headed up by Lord Mervyn Davies, this group took a long hard look at the reality of why women continue to be woefully under-represented in our most senior roles.
Realising the complexity of the issue, of how biases and barriers were operating at multiple levels, the committee took a voluntary-led business approach to change and set a stretch target of 25 per cent of female directors across the FTSE companies.
Four years on, we are on the verge of hitting that target. So the strategy of non-quota intervention has worked. Hurrah, we all cry. But what is the difference between the voluntary business-led approach, with a target and a threat, and an actual quota?
All of the stakeholders engaged agree that without the intervention of this target such significant changes would not have occurred.
There are three widely-expressed arguments against quotas.
First, they offend our sense of meritocracy. But we do not live in a meritocracy, all the data proves this. How we define merit is socially constructed and gendered.
Second, women will not be seen as legitimate. Third, it does not actually change anything. Some argue that we have had a hollow victory setting targets as the increase is mostly in non-executive roles, and the figure for executive directorships is still woefully small at eight per cent.
However, the target achieved what it set out to achieve. So how should we define success? Should it be a descriptive change numbers or a substantive change culture? Although a very small increase, the percentage of female executive directors is on the rise for the first time in five years.
In addition, business cultures are changing: Consider how many of the largest companies are now using publicly declared targets for their senior management levels. Lloyds pledged that 40 per cent of its top 8, staff will be female by ; Royal Bank of Scotland says a third of its top senior management in the same period; and most of the largest law firms now have targets of 30 per cent for partnership levels.
This was all but unthinkable a few years ago. So for now, we do not need quotas in the UK, but only if we continue to set and achieve substantive targets across all levels in all of our organisations. It is commonly believed that markets are efficient and so the most talented workers would be naturally promoted to leadership positions.
Nobel laureate Gary Becker even stated that discrimination would be eradicated by the competitive forces of the market. Trusting this rhetorical argument, some people — notably some successful women — refuse any quotas of women in leadership positions.
However, reality points out that the labour market is not so efficient in promoting gender equality. For decades, as many women as men graduate from the best universities but only a few reach managerial positions.
France illustrates how quotas can change this. Inamong its 40 largest companies, the CAC40, women represented 8. Inthey were The change is not due to any natural competitive mechanism of the labour market.
The change is due to a law passed in that forced large companies to have 20 per cent of female directors in and 40 per cent in Policy makers have to impose quotas for two reasons. First, to change existing representations of the working world.
There is no conspiracy by Machiavellian men to discriminate against women. There are only unconscious habits inherited from the past and a natural human tendency to team up with similar people, especially when facing risk and uncertainty.
Preserving their social comfort zone drives male leaders to recruit men in leadership positions. Diversity and the contribution of gender equality have to be learnt. Meanwhile, ambition has to be promoted among women.
The presence of a few successful female leaders hides what could be considered an unconscious tendency among women to restrain their ambition. It is a function of policy makers to put people into learning situations and force them to change their habits and beliefs.
Second, quotas might contribute to the collective welfare.Watch video · Instituting quotas is a controversial approach to achieving gender equality, but several EU countries have been among the tactic’s early adherents. Spain adopted a measure in Examples of strong quota regimes at the local level are the 50% quotas at the local level in France and the % gender quota for the local councils in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
In India, this gender quota system is combined with the older system of quotas for the scheduled castes.
Gender quotas are used to create equal representation among genders within legislation contribute to the promotion of gender equality, and ease the access of women into positions of government.
Gender quotas in the legislature are important for the represented group and for the polity as a whole.
Aug 30, · California legislators passed a bill that would require publicly-traded companies in California to place at least one woman on their boards by the end of next year -- or face a penalty. A joint project of International IDEA, Inter-Parliamentary Union and Stockholm University, the Global Database of Gender Quotas in parliaments worldwide. Examples of strong quota regimes at the local level are the 50% quotas at the local level in France and the % gender quota for the local councils in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. In India, this gender quota system is combined with the older system of quotas for the scheduled castes.
The last thing women need is a useless gender quota at the board level that does nothing for the majority of us except window dressing. Helen Raleigh is a senior contributor to The Federalist.
An. Oct 16, · One of the most controversial of these is the gender quota where organizations set aside a specific percentage of leadership positions for female employees.
Instead of . Sep 07, · In Europe, gender quotas are old news. In , Norway became the first country in the world to institute a gender quota for boards of directors, requiring listed companies to .