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Prof. Rajna Gibson Brandon, SFI@UNIGE, gives her opinion on quotas for gender equality in the workplace

Posted by
Anita Belitz Krasniqi
Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - 09:00

In a recent article in l'Hebdo magazine on women in top management positions, Switzerland came an appalling 42nd of the 59 countries in the study, with only 9.1% of females in top management positions. Norway came out far ahead of the other countries with over 40% whilst Japan was last with only 2.3%.

The study carried out by the Peterson Institute for International Economics analyzed 22'000 companies in 59 countries. The results showed that in companies where the managing director is a woman or where three women sit on the management board profits increase on average by 15%.

According to Lord Mervyn Davies, who recently led the UK report on gender diversity in boardrooms, having women in top management positions is "good for the boards, good for business, good for the economy".

The article went on to discuss the Swiss situation and what Switzerland is doing to improve gender equality in the workplace. The article debated whether Switzerland should go down the more classical route of imposing quotas or take a more unconventional approach like the UK where the government has set voluntary objectives for companies with the threat of quotas being imposed if those objectives are not reached. The "quotas" topic raises a lot of debate with feelings that they can both help and hinder gender equality in the workplace. SFI Prof. Rajna Gibson Brandon, from the University of Geneva, reported that she has mixed feelings about quotas stressing that companies should rather incorporate the promotion of women into their objectives. The general feeling of those interviewed by the magazine was that even if quotas can help to start improving gender equality they should not remain in place long-term.

The article is in French and is available here.