Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Boardroom Quotas?

with 2 comments

Those of you who browsed The Age today, probably other media as well, will have noticed our Governor-General Quentin Bryce suggested we introduce affirmative action to get more women on the boards of companies.  While towards the end of the article, Quentin admitted she wasn’t in favour of quotas, quotas were indeed mentioned.

I’m not a fan of quotas.  I’m a woman (in case you hadn’t noticed), so I feel I am at least slightly qualified to comment!  I’ve never been in favour of quotas.

Definitely, definitely support equal rights, equal pay and equal opportunity.  I’m just not sure we achieve any of these things in a real way by legislating for a certain percentage of boards of companies (as an example) to be female. 

My biggest concern is that we may well end up with token appointments and that does no-one any good, least of all the reputation of women.  I am a woman who could have taken that path, had I wanted to.  I have the qualifications and the intelligence.  I CHOSE, very specifically, to do what I do because I enjoy it.  I have no desire to be the CEO of one of the major banks either.

I consciously stepped back into the sort of role I have now because I like doing the work I do. I personally believe there are a lot of women who are similar.  Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we want to.  I have met men who are of a similar mind – it is not just women who choose enjoyment over a larger pay packet.  I just think more women make such choices than men do.  While I would possibly consider a role in an organisation I was passionate about, such as an NGO or a hospital, my motivation comes from enjoying what I do, not having the corner office on the 40th floor.  I’ll admit first class air travel is attractive though!

So before I could support quotas, I would want to be assured that there are enough appropriately skilled women out there who WANT to take on those roles, otherwise we’ll get those token appointments I mentioned.

I would like to see us find other ways to encourage companies to  include more women on their boards and appoint women to senior management positions.  A reward system may work better that waving a big legislative stick.  Businesses know that over 50% (in many cases) of their customers are women.  Women control a VERY large chuck of not only the family budget but also discretionary spending.  We are good for business at ALL levels.  Just let’s keep our choices open!

If you are a woman reading this, would you want to be the CEO of the ANZ, NAB or some similar organisation?  Would you want to be on a few boards?  80 – 90 hour work weeks in some cases.  A lot of travel in others – or both.  I’d rather have more time with my family.  Maybe that is just me.


Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Interesting post..


    March 11, 2011 at 5:47 pm

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