Companies should be allowed to select people for boards based on their experience, networks, and performance. Gender should not be considered as a relevant criterion for selecting board members. Are you in favor of this type of social pressure because it may or may not ensure that the most qualified people are placed on boards of directors?

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The terms of the question are slightly confused. First, it states that companies should be "allowed" to select board members "based on their experience, networks, and performance." This is followed by a statement that gender should not "be considered" relevant. Finally, the question is whether the respondent favors "this type of social pressure." The first sentence clearly suggests legislation which would force companies to consider gender in promoting candidates to their boards. The second and third suggest moral force or public opinion only.

Legislated gender quotas are certainly not a good idea. There may be very few women or men in a particular field, meaning that the few there are will be promoted beyond their competence. This will create both inefficiency and resentment. It will also cause problems for good candidates in the minority gender, since they will have to face the assumption that they were promoted because of gender rather than industry or ability.

However, a general expectation that the board will broadly reflect the workforce is probably good for the company's development, and some public comment and pressure when it does not reflects the market's emphasis on gender equality. If a company has a workforce that is 50% female, but a board that is 90% or even 100% male, the least that can be said is that the company should consider why this is. Such a company should also consider whether they really have the best talent available at a senior management level. There will, in any case, be comment on this issue whether the company likes it or not. It will lead to a far healthier work environment and ultimately a better public perception of the company if it addresses the issue of gender parity directly, rather than trying to stifle discussion.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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