The World Economic Forum, where only 16 per cent of the delegates this year are women, on Saturday heard impassioned arguments for gender quotas to boost female participation in the workplace.
Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, told the assembled global elite she had been opposed to quotas until a moment early in her career when she was told she would not progress because she was a woman.
“I soon realised that unless we had targets, if not quotas, there was no way” to make headway, she said. The sole male member of the panel, Nissan-Renault Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn, said he had introduced quotas at his firm in Japan when he realised that only two per cent of his management team were women.
“We have now reached the ridiculous figure of eight per cent, which is three times more than the corporate average in Japan,” Ghosn said. “A quota leads to action. Action leads to training,” he said.
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said women also had to contend with cultural and structural barriers in the workplace that held them back. “Leadership is associated with masculine expectations,” she said. “When women do the things that make them leaders, we don’t like them.” — AFP