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October 23, 2011

Should Canada have Quotas for Females on Boards?

Should there be quotas for the number of women on Boards? I was asked this question by The Globe and Mail - read the full article here.
Having been at a Women Directors dinner with Diane Francis where this question was raised, I was surprised by how many women liked the idea of quotas. All of the women at that prestigious dinner held at Canoe would certainly be at the front of the line to benefit from a quota. Diane Francis said she was against quotas but the other women Directors argued against her points. 
After the dinner, I read about Quebec and Norway's foray with quotas. Norway has had companies de-list from their stock exchange to avoid the quota. 
Canada is a terrific place to be a working woman. Men have been my mentors and my sponsors. Very few women have held out a helping hand to me. As a consequence of those negative experiences, I try and pull up every woman behind me.
When Rebecca Eichler posed the question about boards being forced to have females on their Boards for the Globe article, I hesitated but spoke my true mind. Women are making incredible inroads by being great at business and knowing how to make the bottom line. How do I describe the powerful women in private business who are my clients?
Here is my response:
Jacoline Loewen, director of Loewen & Partners in Toronto, which sources capital for growing companies, has served on a range of boards and believes a quota would dilute the competitive, aggressive behaviour required to drive strong business results.
“I got to my position through hard work and would hate to be seen as a token appointee,” she said. “Men have to pay a price to get on a board, and the women I know on boards have worked hard to get there too.”
The article was posted and quickly attracted over 200 comments. As I read them, there really was an anger about affirmative action. With more women at university and entering the medical and legal professions, the playing fields seem to be open for all. 
Here are some of the comments. 
What do you think?
Where do you stop this quota foolishness? Government is to provice service, not employ minorities to fulfill quotas to look good on someones anual review. Private industry has an obligation to it's shareholders, if the shareholders are willing to risk finacial loss due to some silly poltically correct machination, it is their money. Under no circumstance whould quotas of any kind be legislated into law.
In Argentina they passed a law some 15 years ago that 30% of the MPs have to be women. What did that achieve? Most MP's wives are now MPs.
As a shareholder, I only want folks who make me money. I hold Corby's stock, a decade ago we had a lady as chairman, she made me a ton of money and her salary requests had my total approval. Now she has gone and corby's is a mess. I cant fire the male aholio who runs the place and special dividends have disappeared. Why quota up employment equity deadheads? If you cant make money for the shareholders, I dont care how big your breasts are or how small your penis is. It is all about return on investment.
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