Gender Quotas – The Right Solution for Diversity?

Gender Quotas – The Right Solution for Diversity?

29 Mar 06:00 by Rebecca Nickless


There’s no getting around it: Gender equality in the Australian workplace is a matter of contention and the pursuit of equitable workplaces continues. There is an abundance of initiatives to encourage this balance, one of these is the somewhat controversial ‘gender quota.’ But does this approach actually work?

Why Write a Blog About Gender Quotas?

The inspiration stems from the increasing preferences from our clients to introduce more females into their organisations (and to be prominent/plentiful on our shortlists). Appointing women into positions has also become a source of measure for many businesses where gender quotas are linked to KPIs and financial incentives are given for hiring managers who achieve these targets. This begs the question: can real diversity be achieved with quotas and incentivised targets? Read on...

Do Quotas Support Genuine Diversity?

What is definitive, is that gender quotas get women into roles. However, the ethos of true diversity and opportunity can still be lacking and can even backfire on a number of levels:

  • The best person for the job - be it male or female - can be overlooked in favour of a quota. This can affect the performance of a business as a whole.
  • The person selected may not be the most suitable fit for the business, it’s vision, culture and goals as they are there for the sole purpose of fulfilling a target.
  • More importantly, even if a candidate does have the pertinent skill set and fit for the business, they may feel that they have been hired purely to fill a quota. This can segue to ‘imposter syndrome’ as well as decreased productivity.

There is no doubt that diversity works. We have seen myriad businesses who are reaping the rewards of a gender diverse workplace especially when there is an inbred value and respect on the diversity galvanised by both men and women. Research supports this with results showing a 35% better outcome for diverse businesses versus homogenised ones. Here are the advantages we see:

  • Diversity broadens the pool of talent and attracts the best candidates.
  • Diverse teams engender a greater scale of new ideas, innovation and creative thinking.
  • Improves access to target markets given that women influence 72% of household spending.
  • Augments organisational performance by combining varied perspectives, using a more holistic approach to problem-solving and better decision-making.
  • Minimises the risk of legal implications as gender equality in a workplace has been seen to reduce discriminatory behaviour.

Final Thoughts

We are real advocates of a diverse workforce and there is no denying that gender gaps are prevalent in our Australian workplace and many believe the best way to overcome this disparity is to make positive steps towards ensuring the right behaviours are practiced internally. To fully facilitate true diversity and inclusion, we however need to continue to encourage a culture change that celebrates a candidate’s merit, individual circumstances and belief in true diversity. What are your thoughts? Do you agree that quotas are the way to do this?

If you’d like some help with hiring exceptional talent or keen to talk more about this topic, get in touch with us today.