Quotas for women in business and governmental institutions?

Avatar María Barba
Member since June 25, 2014
  • 7 Posts

Gender inequality is a major issue that has to be addressed urgently. It is happening nowadays (as EIGE in Europe proves with the Gender Inequality Index).

Diversity is positive in every business or governmental institution. Therefore, companies are realising now how important is to embrace different points of view in their boards to be competitive in the markets.

When it comes to governmental institutions -which are supposed to represent the citizens- can they truly represent women not having any in the highest positions?

Read both sides of the argument concerning the implementation of quotas:

Quotas are needed: "unfortunate but necessary"

Women are prepared and willing to have executive roles. So, what is stopping them to reach that point?

Several researches prove that women are not achieving some positions only because they are women :

- "At an extracurricular presentation the year before, a female student asked William Boyce, a co-founder of Highland Capital Partners, a venture capital firm, for advice for women who wanted to go into his field. “Don’t,” he laughed, according to several students present. Male partners did not want them there, he continued, and he was doing them a favour by warning them."(Can be found in an interesting case: 'Harvard Business School Case Study: Gender Equity ')

- Blind auditions key to hiring musicians: This study demonstrates how blind auditions have raised the number of women musicians who get a position in an orchestra.

These facts should not be omitted.

Measures to help reconcile work and family are being implemented. However, it doesn't seem to be enough. It should be considered that the glass ceiling has been built over a sexist society which establishes stereotypes for women and men. The controversial quotas are being used to demolish them. Education is effective but it is a long-time measure, and women nowadays don't deserve to have different conditions because of their gender. Something must be done now.

Quotas may not solve completely the problem but they are a corrective policy whose main objective is to destroy the stereotyped values related to women and the 'men for men' networks.

Women business leaders such as the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde and Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook think the implementation of the quotas is needed.

Quotas must not be introduced: Are we trying to guarantee equality by causing inequality?

When applying for a position on a board, is it fair to choose a woman rather than a man who may be more suitable for the job? Companies will realise that they perform better if they have more diverse and plural boards, but always looking for the best professionals, no matter their gender.

Otherwise, this measure won't even address the issue. Putting some women on boards doesn't guarantee that the rest will have the same opportunities to get there. The women chosen will be thought to be the ones who were lucky, rather than the ones who deserved it.

As The Telegraph journalist Louisa Peacock says : "To put a sticking plaster over the real reasons why women aren't "making it" as much as they should be won't help anyone".

Some people against quotas do think measures have to be taken. Read Maria Gamb's (CEO of NMS Communications and Best-Selling author of Healing the Corporate World ) ideas on Forbes.

To sum up, the glass ceiling for women is a very complex problem related to women. There are several causes that force us to design a complete plan to solve it.

"Inequalities in the division of time between women and men persist. The use of time for work and private life is a particularly gendered issue because of the disproportionate amount of care time attributed to women. Personal time spent on care plays an important role in the individual’s capability to integrate or balance work and private life. This is a key element which impacts on participation in employment, quality of work and care responsibilities." (EIGE)

Co-responsibility with the house and familiy work is compulsory to achieve the equity women deserve. Whether limiting women scale is conscious or unconscious, the plan has to address both possibilities which are coexisting in the work networks.

I once had the chance to listen to a CEO in Spain of a very important multinational company. He 'showed off' about how many women he had on the board: "They tell me not to arrange any meeting in the afternoon because they have to go pick up their children at school". He didn't mention the men on board saying that... If this men had to promote someone, who do you think he would choose, the men available all the time or the women with time 'restrictions'? This exemplifies how we are never going to achieve equity at work if we do not have it at home.

The solution is not only establishing quotas. But, do they help? Share your thoughts and ideas with the VOY community!

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