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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Is ‘diversity’ a fluffy word for affirmative action?


Last week there was a lot of chatter about the introduction of quotas in Europe, UK and the US, to ensure that women will be promoted to executive and leadership positions. Also the quotas would guarantee that 40 % of all public and private boards will be made up of women.
While this sounds like a major victory, unfortunately what this does is that it actually marginalises women even more. I am very much in favour of the empowerment of women in business and politics; however, I disagree with enforcing quotas as it will result in women becoming ‘diversity tokens’ and being promoted to leadership positions and to the board simply to satisfy a diversity quota requirement.
When people are given promotions, university places or political positions based solely on their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and age rather than on merit, ability and skill, the political, academic and business infrastructures will inevitably break down.  Promoting women simply to satisfy numbers or directives is going to back fire and is doomed to failure .
One main reason against promoting women to the board and or leadership positions is the stereotypical ‘family commitments’ one. Despite the fact that 45% of the European work force is female, women still have primary responsibility for child rearing. Perhaps instead of quotas, we need to re think and come up with a workable solution that will allow women to have both a career and a family.

The second argument is more gender specific ‘women are not good decision makers; women are too emotional and passive,’ blah, blah, blah. But, let’s remember that it was men who were at the helm when the current financial crisis erupted, was it not?  As for those male dominated industries like politics, banking and construction, well they are not doing that well either.

In last week’s, daily telegraph, there was an article entitled ‘Women are being ignored by the Coalition’, says Women's Institute head

It was very significant in that no one really gave a damm. What a shame!

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