Targets and quotas will diminish women’s legitimacy and credibility, we’re told, because once they’re imposed,
- women will only be promoted because of their gender, and/or
- the hard work and effort put in by other women will somehow be diminished.
Show me the incompetent women waiting in the pipeline for their turn! Show me the women in senior roles who are only there because they are women!
Women who make it up the ladder typically work harder, are more competent, capable and are often more qualified than their male colleagues. They have to be, to be noticed!
They’ve also had to learn a range of different strategies to get there so are better rounded, more adaptable and flexible: important qualities for leadership!
I get discouraged at the number of senior women who’ve been asked by their CEO’s to take on a succession of jobs that are particularly ‘complex’ ‘challenging’ ‘politically sensitive’ or ‘broken,’ yet, when it comes to the top jobs, are pipped at the post by a bloke, because they’re not the ‘right fit’ or ‘quite ready’. ‘Somehow, I just keep coming second,’ was how an executive client framed it.
If a woman gets appointed to an executive role or a board position because of an organisational focus on achieving gender balance, not only will she be highly qualified and capable, but overdue for that promotion.
And if by error, a woman is recruited who is not as capable or qualified as some of her colleagues, then perhaps we’ll be one step closer to equity: we may be closer to there being as many incompetent women in leadership roles as there are incompetent men!