The tightrope walk between diversity quotas and being forward leaning

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that gender diversity is critical. There is also almost universal consensus that hiring more women is the starting point to achieve this. The challenge arises from the varied approaches used. The two most commonly used approaches focus on
(i) fixing a quota on the number of male and female employees a team can hire or have; and
(ii) creating a policy which says, all else being equal, if the firm has to choose between a male and a female candidate, it should choose the female candidate.

The first one makes it the responsibility of the hiring manager to hire a diverse team and brings the spotlight on the vacant spot that needs a female candidate. Which is fantastic. However, this is also what has given us the new terms of “diversity hire” needed to fill the “diversity quota”. Terms which effectively reduce a high performing, talented professional to being a check in the box, and her merit and qualifications to a single word – Woman.

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