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Gender quotas in the workplace: Do they work and should we have them?

November 13, 2018

As the voices grow louder demanding equality in the workplace - as women continue to be under-represented in senior positions and a significant wages gap still exists - we look at gender quotas, what they are, whether they work and if we should have them.

Gender quotas: it is a contentious topic that elicits some strong opinions. Yet with women continuing to be under-represented on company boards and paid less than men on average, there is clearly more that still needs to be done to redress gender inequality.

Steven Ansicar, Managing Director of Diversity Australia since 2015, said gender diversity in the workplace had been shown to improve the morale and often the bottom line of businesses.


“Quotas are an admission of guilt that your systems and processes haven’t worked,” Asnicar said, cutting straight to his point. “Ideally, we should focus on the right person for a role not the right gender, race, religion or sexuality.


“I think most Australian businesses are frightened by gender quotas and in a number of recent organisational reviews many people, both male and female, commented that after quotas were announced they lost staff. They felt it was a tokenistic approach that didn’t fix the systemic issues, but masked them under a different heading.


“However, business and society benefit from diversity,” he said.


“The ability to provide great service to customers is about making sure the employee base has as much in common with the end user. This brings a better understanding of the services required and better meets the customer’s needs.”

Journalist Catherine Fox (pictured right), the Financial Review’s former Corporate Woman columnist and author of Stop Fixing Women, said quotas in the workplace were a necessary step to address