To quota or not to quota?

‘There are no more all male boards in FTSE 100 companies,’ says Lord Davies latest report.

The former trade minister’s announcement today must make welcome reading for feminists campaigning on this issue. Progress has at last been made and quite substantially in bringing in women to serve as non-execs on the boards of public companies in the UK. Bravo.

Its been a focused exercise, even though overdue. In 2011, women made up just 12.5% of board members and that has now doubled to the figure of 25%.

It is also pleasing from a RWF viewpoint to see that this has been achieved without  quotas which have been imposed in Norway, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands.

On BBC breakfast Lord Davies conceded that while he was against legislation in this way, it was probable the threat of it which helped with this change in boardroom bias. While I hate to admit it, he’s probably right.

This has always been a major difference between right and left feminists – to quota or not to quota.  I have heard both arguments put forward very vociferous at numerous women’s meetings as opinion yoyos between those for and against.

Right wing feminists believe that legislation is an unfair discrimination against men, and also that it leads to tokenism which ultimately undermines achievement and ability and can stunt progress.  Left leaning opinion is that unless you enforce change via penalties it won’t happen at all because of entrenchment of thinking and staffing patterns.

This demonstrates how that ‘right’ and  ‘left’ feminism operates like an opposition party – one correcting the excesses of the other. Sometimes I wonder if we are vocal enough about countering some of the over-reactions made in the name of feminism that obviously aren’t.

Anyway, equal pay for equal work , education and opportunity has long been the aim of all gender equality supporters and this target reached is something we can be pleased with.


About Louise Burfitt-Dons

Writer and social critic
This entry was posted in feminism, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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