The Boardroom and Beyond: Are Quotas the Answer?

The Boardroom and Beyond: Are Quotas the Answer?

Posted March 18th, 2015 in Career Advancement.

In the United States, we are sensitive to the idea of quotas. We believe that people should be recognized and rewarded for work that is worthy of recognition and promotion without mandates. I can’t say I disagree with that. I have worked extremely hard, and feel proud of the recognition I have earned for my achievements.

However, I know it is extremely challenging to look beyond what is either right in front of us or brought to our attention. Leaders rely on other people to tell them about other people who are doing great work throughout an organization. They rely on others to tell them about people they believe are worthy of sponsorship and promotions. Corporate board appointments are no exception.

On March 6th, Germany became the latest and most significant country so far to commit to improving the representation of women on corporate boards. The law requires some of Europe’s biggest companies to give 30 percent of supervisory seats to women beginning 2016.

This undoubtedly will give a jumpstart to a process that has been painfully slow to catch up with social employment changes. While women make up more than half of the technical and professional workforce in the United States, women make-up only 19 percent of corporate boards. With a pressing need for increasing representation, there are certainly many ways to have this happen.

Pressure from investors and activists is one way to move this process along…these types of bottom-up influences rather than top-down mandates appear more prevalent in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Young Woman Working at Home, Small OfficeIt is hard to say quotas are entirely bad – after all, they certainly expedite the process. True, we don’t know if they are going to work but in many ways, they are better than nothing. Germany, Norway, France and Spain are now serving as precedents for this.

As the old adage says, we never know until we try. And I am excited to see the outcomes of our efforts.

Articles sited: 

1) Capital Ideas

2) Germany Sets Gender Quotas in Boardrooms