Monday, 5 March 2012

Token Pencil Skirt

So the European Commission wants to give the ladies a chance to play with the big boys at the top table of business. Not in the name of equality, of course, but because companies with better gender balance make bigger profits, apparently.
Many women find the idea of quotas to help them penetrate the [insert latest glass-related metaphor] distasteful.
Nobody wants to be appointed to fill a gender, race or disability quota, rather than on their merit as a worker. But others realise that the quotas may be a necessary evil to open the way to generations of highly capable women to come.
I'm not a fan and I don't think I could ever take a job in the knowledge that I was the token pencil skirt.
But I think we are missing the point. The whole debate seems to work on the presumption that men who are appointed to boards are "successful" and women who do not reach these heady heights are failures. They need a leg up.
Nobody ever seems to question the narrowness of what male politicians, journalists and businessmen regard as success. All paths away from FTSE100 companies, from high office, from business lunches, sock garters and central London are paths downhill in their eyes.
Rather than simply bemoaning the lack of women at the top, perhaps we should celebrate what women are doing "at the bottom", quietly, and happily getting on with their lives.

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