Diversity of Thought Blog

Why are we so scared of the Q word?

Angela Priestly, Editor of Women’s Agenda has made an interesting observation: Businessmen love to talk women in leadership, until you mention the Q word.

Given the success of quotas in countries such as Norway, both in terms boosting gender equality at senior roles, and also in terms of board performance during the GFC, why are we so scared of the word QUOTAS?

The evidence is overwhelming.  In 2010, the Garnet Policy Brief recommended mandatory gender quotas in all management positions of financial and regulatory institutions, based on the knowledge that the under representation of women on in top decision making bodies played a role in the global financial meltdown.  The 2012 Credit Suisse Research Institute report backed this up with data showing that in the volatile post-2008 global financial market, company stocks for those who had women on boards gender diversity outperformed those with none, with higher ROEs and less volatilile earnings.

So why the fear of even talking about quotas?

While many people have a strong pro or anti-quotas stance, it seems that many are shifting sides.  But how can we take effective action on gender equality in corporate Australia if the mere mention of the Q word can stop a conversation dead in it’s tracks?

Many of us have experienced this resistance when involved with gender diversity initiatives. There certain things that trigger a brick walls, such as quotas, targets linked to KPIs or even the acknowledgement that we all have unconscious bias.

For many of us, this resistance to change come as a big surprise, especially when the source of it are those who have expressed a genuine commitment to driving gender equality.  When, despite good intentions and buy-in, how do you deal with resistance to action that translates these ambitions a reality?

It is because of this resistance to change that The 100% Project is hosting a one day Masterclass with Dr Lisa Lahey from Harvard University, to apply her Immunity to Change methodology, for the purpose of overcoming resistance, converting good intention into action and driving real change for gender equality in Australia.  If you are interested in finding out more, check out www.the100percentproject.com.au

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