Balancing Out The Corporate World With Quotas

Last week a post from the Economic World Form showed up on my Facebook with Muna Abu Sluyman from Saudi Arabia sharing her ideas about gender and equality at the work floor.

In her blog ‘Balancing Out The Corporate World’ she explains why mandatory quotas are needed to ensure that women join the decision makers in this world. I couldn’t agree more with her.

Indeed, quotas are a crucial step to female empowerment in business with the end goal to achieve a better balance in decision making and, hence, finding solutions to the needs of a community or society at different levels of emotion. The latter – the goal – is often forgotten in the debate about this instrument, what a quota merely is. That is why we all, men and women, need to force ourselves to look beyond the instrument and understand better the goal we want to reach. This important worldwide debate should not be belittled or slowed down by some of the less flattering details of the instrument.

In many instances, quotas are not very popular and stir up a lot of emotions. You only have to look as far as the Dairy and Fishing industry to see how quotas give people the creeps. But is that a reason not to use them?

Don’t get me wrong, working with quotas is not a concept that I favor in principal and like to think we don’t need them. Regularly, my husband – a decision maker in industry – and I have tough discussions about it. On the other hand, why is it so difficult to accept that quotas help? Many woman – and I am one of them – just need that extra push get a sound and respectful female leadership community to look up to. Why? Because there is an urgent need for people and profiles we as women can more easily:

  • identify with,
  • admire, and
  • get inspired by.

The key emotional ingredients for moving up and forwards in business, wouldn’t you say?

I know, quotas feel like putting an elephant in a china shop. However, it is not unusual in business to put an elephant in a china shop in order to get things moving and shaking and more importantly, to get people to change their believes that are hidden far back in their mind and steer their unconscious behavior. So, quotas could be the hammer on a fragile nail that refuses to go in. Now, the challenge is to use the hammer in a subtle way.

Back to the challenge of inspiration and perception. When I searched for images to go with this article I noticed how difficult it is to find images that portray the essence of this subject . If you Google on let’s say ‘Board Woman’, you get girls in bikini. Online magazines like Spiegel Online lack imagination with an awful image of a lake and mountains when covering the Norway Case in their article ‘Norway’s Experience Shows Compulsory Quotas Work’

And another very sad image of a woman alone in a meeting room was shown alongside the article Norway’s New Quota: Corporate Board 40% Women Or Else!

And what do you think about this awful image alongside another article from Spiegel Online ‘Gender Equality’.  The Dominatrix looks like a nicer person to work with than this woman …!

And perhaps wort of all are magazines and blogs that do not even have an image with their articles on gender equality, such as Ignore the doubters. Norway’s quota on women in the boardroom is working

Sadly it looks to me that the media wants us to believe that we have a long, muddy and indefinite path to go. Of course, it is nothing like that at all. It are all man who wrote these articles.

What we need is a tsunami of contemporary images of women in this world doing their leadership job on a daily base. Women like the Principal of my kid’s elementary public school, Scotland Elementary School (PA), who steered the school into the top three ranking of public schools in the area.

Windows of opportunities are opening for women, but for how long will they stay open? I am sure that this era of social practices and emotions will be followed up by a new one where men will claim their positions in leadership back, whether in a traditional or new format. The changing of the wheel goes fast. Change in business and society lays around the corner, all the time.

And THAT, my dearest reader, is WHY we need QUOTAS as a mean to enhance Female Leadership.