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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Jobs for the Girls

Norway has set quotas on the number of female directors companies must have. The bar is set at a minimum of 40%.
As a result, many companies have been forced to decide which of their serving directors to sack in order to bring in female replacements.

Which is fine, if you have female staff you can promote who know the firm's business, or can identify female business talent who could bring useful skills to the table. Certainly, the Norwegians are claiming that the quota system has bred success.

But what they mean is that it has bred success for that small coterie of qualified women who are now cleaning up with boardroom appointments. It remains unproven whether individual businesses have benefited at all.

No one's bothered to do the research to find out. After all, negative conclusions might be construed as sexist, even when based on the cold math of the bottom line. Best not to ask at all.

I have a female partner, a mother, a sister, a daughter. I'm surrounded by women, appreciate women and believe firmly in equality. Generally, what I see around me is equality. My work colleagues get paid the same irrespective of gender. I don't know of an industry where that doesn't happen.

But I'm with Anne Widdecombe (a strange and disconcerting place to find myself) on this one. If you got your job in a quota system rather than on pure merit, you shouldn't be thrilled. You should feel grossly insulted.

After all, where is the self-respect, the sense of achievement in knowing that you're a walking token gesture to political correctness?

Like affirmative action in the US, the Norwegians are going about equality the wrong way with their skewed promotions and their anti-merit systems.


Anonymous said...

Agreed, JC.

Apart from the fact that no woman has much to be proud about who gets her job on the basis of simply making up numbers, simply introducing a quota does nothing to address the issues that kept women out of those boardroom in the first place.

Which might be part of a bigger, more sinister plan...

Kate P, (who came in from the cold)

JC Skinner said...

I agree. It's a patronising system that doesn't address the underlying causes of inequality.