Gender quotas are a topic of discussion at the meeting
THE GENDER gap in boardrooms came under the spotlight yesterday at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting in Davos-Klosters in Switzerland.
Some delegates have suggested increasing the number of women in the boardroom and other parts of companies could be achieved through gender quotas and programmes.
In a WEF statement, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, said gender inequality was not conducive to good inclusive economic growth.
“In the last few years, progress has slowed down,” Lagarde said, adding gender quotas were in place at the IMF.
According to the Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2016, the slowdown was partly due to chronic imbalances in salaries and labour force participation.
Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice-President and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, said women should have the opportunity to be in positions based on merit and not quotas, but she admitted it may take quotas to change the situation.
“I don’t think it will happen unless there are quotas,” De Alvarado said.
Robert E Moritz, the global chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers International and a strong advocate of gender equality in the workplace, stressed that disruptive leadership was needed to improve diversity in the boardroom.
However, Moritz recommended gender programmes within a company were the right way to go as opposed to quotas.
“If males are not in the conversation, you will miss it (reducing the gender gap),” Moritz concluded.
Cynthia Castro, vice-president of Reinventing Business for All, Costa Rica, underlined the importance of addressing gender bias in the recruitment process, paternity leave and equal parenting, and educating consumers.
“Gender inequality affects men, because they think it is an issue about women,” Castro said.
“You can’t be gender-blind in 2017; you have to be gendersmart.”