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Microsoft APC 2015: Women in IT Panel - Quotas, meritocracy and the diversity dividend

Allan Swann (ARN) | Sept. 2, 2015
Panel of female leaders spells out what is required to overcome unconscious bias of sexism.

Both were rated as equally competent, but reviewers attributed more arrogance to the Heidi version.

Recent social media campaigns, such as "I look like an Engineer", aimed at helping break down these gender stereotypes, alongside A/NZ promotions such as offering superannuation to mothers on maternity leave, are starting to overcome the cultural and structural issues.

The final question Spencer put to the panel was related to female quotas for boards on the ASX Top 200.

"A recent report showed that there are more CEOs named Peter than there are females in total," he said.

Marlow was adamant that gender diversity and meritocracy are not mutually exclusive. All of the panellists agreed that quotas are a good idea to pull in the diversity dividend, and even reduce risk.

"Quotas are a good thing. Even if there are those that don't think the skill level is there, you grow into it, you're going to develop the skills. That's not to say the skills aren't there, its just to counter that argument that says we can't have quotas because we lose the skill level that we need," Trestrail said.

Marlow was more passionate. "I am tired of the conversation that says, when we have quota, we have an issue with meritocracy. It is ridiculous. There are just as many smart women in this world as there are smart men. Right now, the system, and we've already discussed a variety of different reasons why, has not supported women rising to the top," she said.

"Meritocracy is not an excuse. Sixty percent of law graduates in this country are women. When you go to the boardroom, that is not reflected. It is not a pipeline issue. It is not a meritocracy issue. We have to drive targets and put quotas in place, in order to force changes in the system.

"As a CEO I have a quota for my contribution margin, my revenue growth, my market share, why wouldn't we do this? Because it just isn't good enough where we are. If someone wants to come to me and tell me I only got my job because of a quota, I'll prove them wrong by doing a great job.

"The rate of change is glacial and its not right. My daughter deserves better."

Source: ARN Australia

 

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