Initiative to promote women at the top.

Interesting interview in the Guardian with an inspiring and succesful business woman (9 (!) kids) who rejects strict quota’s (unless as a last resort), but is promoting other ways of increasing the amount of woman at the top. This after a comment of her 5-year old son got her thinking — itself an argument for family-work balance: talking to kids can lead to good ideas!

I am certainly delighted to see a women-related issue in the business rather than the Life&Style pages!!!

What do we think?

I really liked this:

“I don’t buy the talent issue. How can it be that intellectually, through A-levels, degrees and their early careers, women are even-stevens with men, and then they suddenly melt down at 30?”

and this:

“Nobody has all the answers, however brilliant their background, and an all-male board, which has been at school and university together, however good they are individually, will clearly have its limitations.”

But a friend of mine was not to happy about the comment right at the end:

“Men and women can bring different qualities to the table – as well as a host of similar ones. “Women are typically more conscientious, less concerned with status, more concerned about consensus building and, because they make so many of the consumer decisions, have a good understanding of the market.

“Men tend to be more focused and goal-orientated, which is very good for career development and very important when running a business. Men are more likely to make a decision and go through with it and that’s very important – consensus-building isn’t always right.” ”

My friend worries that without explaining how these differences arise (presumably through different life-experiences/training), this can suggest some kind of biological deterministic view that ultimately undermines one’s cause. I agree, but think this is is a double-bind that is difficult to avoid if one tries to make a case for the direct benefits of diversity to a company.