Monday, December 3, 2012

Management Quotas For Women Are Not Just Evil. The Discussion About Them Helps

We do not like when somebody tries to enforce something upon us. It especially irritates us, when it is related to the rules of Company management, as it happened now in the proposed European Directive regarding number of women in the leadership positions. After all, human resources decisions should be driven by qualification and personality traits of each individual, by the area of expertise of given company and by culture of each country.

The European Commission proposal had awakened a wave of negative emotions across whole country, across all levels and business branches. My spontaneous response is also very clear. Who will next time believe that the newly appointed member of a supervisory board got the position because of her skills, not because of her gender? How fast the 40% quota could be realistically in force when the current level of women in management in the Czech Republic is one of the lowest from the European Union (estimated at 4%-8%)? How could we remove emotions from the discussions when the suggested Directive clearly aligns men against women?

The EU proposal in any case represents a change, even though the individual members of the European Union still have to agree to it. It stands for the shift in the public viewing of the equal working rights. Each such decision brings uncertainty and fear while the number of influential and well paid positions could become even more deficient for men because of this step. All of that at a time when there is a lot of restructuring in place due to economical crisis, when there are plenty of men looking for new opportunities and the outlook for positive future is out of sight.

From the bird’s eye view I can say that the quotas are not just pure evil. After in-depth observation of the stories of women in leadership I have to admit, that there is something good about it. Viviane Reding, the EU Commissioner managed to bring up the debate about necessity of balanced representation of women in management. She gave a new spark to the debate by opening the today’s taboo of hidden discrimination for the top positions and women’s career glass ceiling. Reding has done that bravely at a time when the supply of quality top men-managers overcomes the demand and it is even harder for women to overcome the prejudices.

This article was written for the leading Czech economical magazine EKONOM No.48, Nov. 2012.

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