Excellent article sur l’avenir des quotas en Europe. Voici un long extrait de ce document:
As the EU begins a three-month consultation on whether there should be quotas for women in the boardroom, Harriet Alexander asks whether Norway’s quotas could work in Britain.
Mrs Berdal said she was broadly supportive of the quota system, as a necessary step – even though she disliked the principle of interference in boards. She also denied that it had adversely affected the profitability of Norwegian companies.
« If women are just there as ‘tokens’, then the nomination committee is doing a really bad job. I don’t know any woman who is there just to make up the numbers; they are all highly qualified and professional, » she said.
« There was obviously resistance at the beginning, but now that it has been there for a few years it has weakened.
« My general experience is that it is working fine, and that boards are not weakened by the system: on the contrary, in fact.
But other business experts have expressed scepticism that the EU could impose uniform restrictions on such diverse national working cultures.
Kenneth Ahern, a professor of finance from the University of Michigan, doubted whether Britain was ready to make the necessary financial sacrifice to push women onto boards. His own research on Norway, published last year, showed that « the quota led to younger and less experienced boards, and deterioration in operating performance, consistent with less capable boards. »
He told The Sunday Telegraph: « In Norway, they knew that the value of their companies would drop, but society there cared more about equality than finance. It was a conscious decision.
« For the EU to make such an important moral choice, across such a variety of countries, is a very big ask indeed. I could see there being real resistance to obligatory quotas from countries such as Germany and the UK, which prize the financial output extremely highly. »
Mrs Berdal, who was a widely-travelled international lawyer before dedicating herself full time to board work, agreed that it could be hard to impose quotas in Britain.
« I think the British culture – both in society in general, and in business – is a bit more conservative, and still a bit more male dominated than in Scandinavia.
« In the boardroom, if you have only men, they tend to know each other from school, university or the golf club, and decisions are often made outside of the boardroom so you don’t have full control and transparency. Maybe in the UK you’ll have to twist some more arms. »