My Brevity on Norway's Quotas – Insensitive

A blog reader wrote in that my post on Norway’s new law for at least 40% of board members to be women was "insensitive on a number of levels" because it was only one sentence long: "What a stupid way to work for equality in the boardroom" with a link to the NYT article.

She’s right. I should have explained my reasoning. This is a routine confliction for busy bloggers – I didn’t have time at the moment to write much more than I did for that post, so should I not have posted it, waited to post when I’d have time to elaborate, or post it anyway and hope readers grasp my stance. I chose the third option, and it didn’t work.

I shouldn’t have been so brief on a major and important issue, but loyal readers know how important it is to me. After all, I must confess my politics: I am a feminist. I believe women have been discriminated against for thousands of years. But there’s a difference between this moral point of equality and the actual steps needed to realize it.

Affirmative action (see my formal book review) attacks the symptom, not cause, of racism. In most cases, in my experience, it hurts the recipient more than helps. Same with female quotas in the boardroom. It may be easier, now, for Norwegian women to get on a board, but it will take years to overcome the presumption among men that she’s really not qualified.

Finally, the reader pointed out that it seems most of my Friends of Ben are men, so it’s important I hear this complaint. This is true. I would also say, though, that some of the most talented/inspiring people in the business world I know and have met are women (like Carol Rutlen or Heidi Roizen).

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