February 1, 2011
Quotas for Women?
A woman worth her salt ought to be promoted based on merit – few debate that. But it isn’t always enough. Frustrated that women make up less than 17 percent of delegates at the World Economic Form meeting, last week in Davos, Switzerland, the WEF decided to set quotas requiring a fifth of the delegates sent by strategic partners be women.
“I’m glad the WEF is taking a proactive stance,” Penny McIntyre, President of Newell Rubbermaid office products group, tells PINK, who discussed the issue on CNN.
“You might think we wouldn't need quotas, that companies would have senior women who would naturally attend. The fact that this isn't the case means more effort must be made to ensure diversity.”
The percentage of women delegates at the WEF mirrors the percentage of women in leadership roles across industries. A spokeswoman for the WEF said the quota is an effort to “nudge toward gender parity.”
Others who’ve instituted quotas have seen results. Consider Norway’s use of quotas in 2002, requiring public companies to allocate 40 percent of board seats to women. After seeing the results, Spain, France and Britain began considering similar policies.
Not everyone agrees: publications like The Telegraph and CNN's Fortune Finance ran stories opposing the WEF’s new rule, saying such “political correctness” isn’t the way for women to achieve equality. But others say, if the stagnant pace of female progress in the workplace has taught us anything, “gender equality any time soon will require a shove, not just a nudge.”
Bonus PINK Link: Now than women outnumber men at work, will the rules change?
By Cynthia Good
"We must get beyond debates about the merits of
affirmative action and begin to act in the affirmative." Gary Holder-Winfield