Sunday, July 31, 2016

Would Gender Quotas Help Us or Hurt Us in our Quest for Equality?

Created by Kimberly Kline, API

As women, we are still on our 
quest for equality.  

Whether that means equal pay for equal work or wanting a level playing field when it comes to getting a job or promotion, women continue the fight.

And there is no doubt that the road to gender equality is a slow one.  It is a sad fact, but we are still fighting for some of the same rights we were asking for years ago.  This leaves many of us feeling frustrated.

But there has been progress.

Over time, we have seen a gradual closing of the gender pay gap.  And currently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is on a mission to close it even further.  

But that only addresses equal pay.  

It does little for advancing the cause of helping women rise in the ranks.

Other countries have looked to bring more women into leadership positions by enacting gender quota laws.  Their goal is to make women more present in both the political arena and on corporate boards.

But when it comes to women here in the 
United States, 
would Gender Quotas help us or hurt us?

As a country, we have often paid lip service to giving women an equal shot and cracking the “glass ceiling”.  Companies, at least outwardly, say they welcome us in their executive positions.  And many are even actively recruiting women to achieve this goal.

Sadly, the presence of women in the boardroom still lags behind.

At times, this absence is caused by a lack of interest in promoting women or even to true gender bias.  But most often, the real cause is much more subtle.

Employers, without even realizing it, may have a subconscious belief in the stereotypes that hold women back in the workforce.  For example, tradition has it that we are the primary caregivers and responsible for the majority of the family’s day to day needs.  As a result, employers might think we can’t put in the time necessary to excel in higher level positions.


This perception continues.  Because of this, we can be excluded when it comes time to promote. And it can derail our professional progress.

Are Gender Quotas the Way to Get More Women in the Boardroom?  “Tweet This”

So, what can we do to get more women in the boardroom?

Are Gender Quotas the Answer?

Implementing gender quotas indeed would result in more women being hired and promoted.  To comply, companies would have to bring more women into their companies or risk scrutiny and litigation.

And if simply filling a pre-determined number of leadership and lower level positions with women were our goal, then gender quotas would be a success.  

Created by Kimberly Kline, API

But, does that really further our true cause?

Instead, I believe that if quotas are enacted, every time a woman is hired or promoted, it puts in question “why”.  Was it simply to meet that quota or because we were really the best person for the job? 

This immediately puts women at a disadvantage and surrounds our hire with suspicion (much as it does with race based quotas).  Instead of helping us, this perception hurts us.

And if our ultimate goal is the equal treatment of men and women in the workplace, then quotas may actually end up dividing us more.  

Quotas actually go against our belief in 
equal opportunity.

Women candidates would suddenly be favored over male candidates, even if we are less qualified.

This does nothing but make others resentful and encourage the belief that our hire or promotion was not justified.

Some may argue that despite the division and resentment that gender quotas would create, that “the ends justify the means”.  

That by forcing more women in the door, we are at least a step closer to getting them to the executive suite.  And once we get there, we can pay it forward and help other women succeed.

I think this is an error in thinking.

Ultimately, if a company is forced to hire us, even if they feel other candidates are more qualified, then we lose.

And the reason is the word “force”!  When anything is forced upon people, there is a tendency to resist, and a feeling of resentment builds.

Instead, when women succeed in business based on our merit and skill, we all, companies as well as women, benefit.  Here we are not being promoted simply because we are women, but because we have earned it.

This is critical if our quest is for women and men to be truly equal in and out of the workplace.

Created by Kimberly Kline, API

Of course there will still be employers who are biased.  They will continue to hire us less frequently, or will deny us the promotion, simply because we are women.

That is where stronger enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws should step in.

The Fair Credit Reporting Agency (FCRA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) already have guidelines in place that prohibit discrimination in hiring.  Denying employment, or eliminating from promotion, any person based on their race, religion, age, sexual orientation, or gender is illegal.

And these laws continue to be expanded and suits filed against companies who do not comply.  

It is active, persistent, and strong enforcement of these hiring laws, and not gender quotas, that will encourage the hiring and promotion of women.

Ultimately, this is what I believe:

  • I believe that women deserve to be treated equal to men, in all facets of society.

  • I believe that companies benefit from having a diverse workforce.

  • I believe in equal pay for equal work.  

This is a cause we can’t abandon.  

There should never be an instance where women doing the same job as men, and with the same qualifications, is paid less. 

Learn more in “Discrimination ~ Gender Bias Keeps Us from Earning What We are Worth”!

  • I believe in the stringent adherence to all anti-discrimination hiring laws.

  • And, most importantly, I believe Women are Strongest when We Band Together.

We need to present a united front and put aside the differences that divide us.  We must be ready to help ourselves!  (You can read more about my thoughts on this in “Women in Business ~ My Case for Why We Need to Help Ourselves!”.

These beliefs will never change.

I vow to continue to further the cause for women wherever I can, and to believe that every step we take brings us further towards the equality we truly deserve.

But I don’t believe Gender Quotas are the way to get there.

Share Your thoughts here!  
I would love to hear from you!

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