Quotas are a bad idea


L'AGEFI Hebdo | March 11, 2021

The L'AGEFI Hebdo article, "Quotas are a bad idea​," was written by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Florence Ferraton​, where she explains why imposing quotas to tackle diversity problems in an organization isn't ideal and what should be done instead. The article is excerpted below.

As France has just celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Copé-Zimmermann law, the Minister of the Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, has announced his desire to introduce quotas at the level of "governing bodies". To date, no one is contesting the Copé-Zimmermann law which forces companies to have at least 40% women on their boards of directors. It has made it possible to place France in the lead in terms of parity within these bodies at the European level. Over the years, Russell Reynolds Associates has seen the profiles of female directors form, gain confidence and gain legitimacy to be contributory and listened to board members today.

However, from an operational point of view, this progress still too often stops at the doors of the executive committees. Thus, the proportion of women on the SBF 120 management committees only reached 21% in 2020. In these same committees, they are often attached to specific positions. Thus, 67% of women in the CAC 40 executive committees hold functional responsibilities. To respond to this issue, the challenge is not so much to impose quotas as it is to tackle the problem head-on, by identifying the levers that will allow women to legitimately access positions of responsibility.

There are two levels of approach to the problem. In the short term, by loosening the usual vice of "must have", in particular, that of the international course which is often lacking for female profiles. In the medium to long term, by building and supporting internal career paths that adapt to individual constraints.

The valuation of new skills (inclusiveness, good balance between vision and pragmatism, etc.), which is very often found in female leaders, must be the tipping point towards greater diversity. But this cannot be imposed by coercive measures, under penalty of taking the risk of depriving female leadership of legitimacy.

Find the full article here.

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Quotas are a bad idea