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Topic Tuesday: Diverse Governing Boards

Edited
Mary Ramirez Community Leader Oct 09, 2018

California recently became the first state to require women on the corporate boards. For some companies in Europe, this is old news, as they already have this law in place. Many Americans identify this as a win but wish it was a requirement nationwide. What are your thoughts about this law? Are there benefits in having a diverse board?

4 comments

Kat Marketplace Partner Oct 09, 2018

The concern about quotas is that it risks tokenism or accusations of tokenism.

Is the newly appointed board member only the best person for the role because of the quota? Or are they genuinely the best person for the role due to their experience and knowledge?

Mary Ramirez Community Leader Oct 09, 2018

Good point! I think that's an important concept to keep in mind when bringing a person onboard. 

My first concern was also the argument made above, which I wholly used to subscribe to, myself. Though, there are typically numerous folks who could fill a particular role in sufficient if not exceeding capacity. To worry that there may be someone who could fill the position better than who you are hiring is always going to be a concern. To say a company would hire someone who is not a great fit for a role just to meet a quota, I think, is some fearful notion put in place by folks who have some pretty pessimistic outlooks on how things work. With the size of the workforce there will always be an ideal candidate who is male, female, and various races (or at least there should be).....The problem is that the workforce is currently overwhelmingly populated by white males, more largely, white people (both male and female) represent 60% of the tech industry! Unfortunately, the systemic disadvantages for minorities, among other things such as subconscious bias, that exist in America currently have created an imbalance in the workforce. There are not nearly as many minorities entering the tech industry and even if they do, it is harder for them to land/keep positions due to systemic racism and sexism. 

For example, “Two researchers told us that women often have the academic preparation to enter into technology-related degree programs, but they may choose not to pursue such degrees because of instances of gender bias within technology classes. Our prior work reported on studies that found women leave STEM fields at a higher rate than their male peers, citing one study that found women leave STEM academic positions at a higher rate than men in part due to dissatisfaction with departmental culture, faculty leadership and research support.”

For me, the government regulating diversity in the workforce is needed in order for us to change things in our society. Starting at a young age, we need to show children of all races and young girls that they are represented in the tech sector and they have a place there. A thought experiment would be that if we knew a sector of people in our country were facing extreme poverty would we not give them more assistance than the majority of people just because it wasn't fair across the board? I guess some would (and do) argue that we shouldn't give those people in need "more of the cake", but I've come to realize that a country is only as great as how well ALL of it's people are doing (be it via the government or other means). Just my two cents.

Having a diverse board (and diversity in any group making decisions for an organization or team) is of utmost importance. Good job California!

TDLR; I used to not want the government to tread on me, now I know that white male privilege is too prevalent for us to change without the government's help so I am open to it.

 

Source: [https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/12/04/tech-sector-needs-uncle-sams-help-on-diversity/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f37f13d690d8]

Source: [https://www.businessinsider.com/infographic-tech-diversity-companies-compared-2017-8]

Here, here! I second the notion about quota's.

What for me would be more important is that women who want to be in those roles are encouraged and supported to get there. What Amanda said about the STEM research results is exactly my point also!

This sadly is down to culture / mindset and rules will have little impact on this.

And just to be a sourpuss, Europe isn't so rosy as you'd think. Yes, some areas are far more diverse and excepting, but others are still stuck in the dark ages!

Mary Ramirez Community Leader Oct 10, 2018

Hi @Andy B - PTC

Thank you for participating in this thread. I also believe that it is important to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone feels like they're not only welcomed but also that their input matters. And thank you for clarifying Europe's awesomeness, I've never lived there and American articles make me believe they're light years ahead of us. 

It's a great thread.

Yes, absolutely. Their input does matter and an inclusive atmosphere helps exponentially.

Haha! You're welcome. I guess like with everything in life there is a balance.... good and bad, ying and yang: for every amazing aspect there is always the antonym.

(Don't forget the impact that the geographical landmass of North America can have on culture. It's a big place. The state of Texas itself covers 9 European countries... there's at least three local regions in that map below with their own dialect that would love to break free from the current country they are in.... :oO #Exclusion)

TOBWOD2.jpg

Very interesting Andy!

I'm generally against ideas that require by law a specific makeup of things like board member, employee ratios, etc. My concern with this is that those on the team could be there simply to fill a quota. I would rather that the industry self govern itself in this area a realize the benefits of a diverse viewpoint rather than be forced to adopt a certain stance.

Secondly, only specifying that a board has to have women seems somewhat arbitrary to me. Why not also say that they need to have ethnic minorities, disabled people, older people, younger people, gender minorities, religious minorities, etc. The reason is that this would be untenable. It just seems arbitrary to me to  pick one underrepresented group above all others to be required by law.

I would rather see incentives given to companies for working toward diversity and programs created to give underrepresented groups the ability to get into that field if they so choose. But I do not believe the government should make it mandatory.

Monique vdB Community Manager Oct 10, 2018

I can see the arguments against this (and understand the concern that it might backfire on the women who are appointed to boards since they will inevitably be held to a higher and possibly unrealistic standard) but honestly, at this point, I'm happy about this law.  I think this will force the status quo (aka old white dudes) out of their comfort zones and then end up being seen as no big deal to put into place, and overall a net positive to have more diverse perspectives.  

Like Amanda Kirk likes this

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