Do women want promotion based on merit or quotas?

A guest blog from Maggie Berry, managing director of


David Cameron recently said that companies must increase female board representation and hinted that he would not rule out quotas as a way of achieving this.


It’s admirable to see the PM doing his bit for gender equality, but would women be happy with the idea of quotas? Theresa May, the Home Secretary, recently said “I’ve never wanted to get anywhere because I was part of a quota. I’ve wanted to get there because I’d worked hard for a job and because I deserved it.” And I’m sure most women would agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment.


Mrs May, who also happens to be the Minister for Women and Equality, made her comment at the launch of a new report on boardroom gender. She pointed out that progress was being made; the number of FTSE 100 companies with no female board representation had nearly halved and the majority of FTSE 250 boards now have at least one female member.


She went on to say that quotas can provide a quick fix, but we are already seeing some progress without them.


Lord Davies recommended that FTSE 100 companies should have 25% female board representation by 2015. Currently, women hold 15.6% of the board seats. In the past year, 47 out of the 190 new board appointments went to women, which strangely enough is virtually bang on 25%! So we’re getting there. And all without the need for quotas.


Surely it’s better for companies to take the lead and appoint based on merit rather than a quota system that would lead to the sort of comment – she’s not really suitable but the Government forced us to promote women.


And looking at it from a woman’s perspective, would you feel truly happy to be promoted to the board if you felt you were just there to make up the numbers? Let us know what you think.

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