Women Diversity in the Business World

I sat in on a breakout session on October 19, 2012. This session was considered a debate about women taking jobs under their companies “quotas.” Before they started the
debate, they took a count of who felt companies should have quotas directed to women, to others who felt quotas were wrong. At the end of the tally, the count came to a ratio of 3:25 (not including the people who were neutral).

The leader of the discussion first started off talking about the pros and the cons of this very broad question. “Quotas can be shown to be good for businesses, and quotas ensure equal representation.” When she started discussing all these facts about the positive impacts of a “quota,” I started to wonder what a quota is in the business world.

A quota is a specific amount of something that is needed. So, you’re saying a business has to have a certain amount of women to show diversity? The answer is yes. But, doesn’t that seem wrong? To most people, yes.

On the pro-quota side, the men said that some don’t feel women are capable of the higher job life, such as being CFO’s and CEO’s. Norway for instance, they have a quota: they started
with less than 20% women on the boards in 2003,  but now there’s more than 40% on boards in companies, so maybe quotas are good things.

To be black, and a woman, sometimes the two are highly known as negatives in the business world. But, what men don’t realize is that, I am smarter than the average male. My voice counts and standing behind a male, other than my father, is ludicrous. I stand next to men, not even in front, because we are all equal. When it comes to my business, I act like a woman, but think like a man, because I am in charge of my life.

A young woman from South Africa stated, “In Africa, we don’t even have working jobs. We are supposed to stay in the homes and bear children and nurture the children, so why complain? You have to get out there and fight for yourself, don’t expect anything just by complaining.” When this young woman spoke to all the women in the session, it made me really realize that I am in control of my own destiny, and if I want something, I have to go out and get it. I can’t complain, because when I’m complaining, I’m still going to be in the same situation I’m in.

For the anti-quota side, they felt that men look at quotas as an artificial fix. Women should look at the qualities of the person, not the diversity of the person.

Another question that came to mind when they discussed the indefinite amount of women in the work field is that, maybe women are choosing different priorities such as, their families. Compared to a male who feels he is destined for the job to be his. “Women don’t strive to be leaders because women weren’t thinking about jobs when they were younger. I didn’t even know what I wanted to be when I got to college,” a woman said during the discussion.

What about the value of networking? If a male and a female network, would it probably help a woman to be considered by a company? “Well, people’s minds need to change,” one person said. “Women are just being promoted too early,” another stated.

At the end of the debate, the tally was taken again; the ratio of pro-quota’s to anti-quota’s changed significantly.
It was now 14:26.

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