UHasselt research shows success of quotas for women
According to research done among CEOs and members of boards across Belgium, the introduction of a gender quota has not had the negative impact they expected
A law from 2011 stipulates that at least one-third of the board of directors of listed companies in Belgium must be made up of women by 2017 – or 2019 depending on the size of the company. Government-funded enterprises had to achieve this minimum by 2012.
Businesses were extremely critical of the quota regulation, saying that, because there were too few capable women, companies would simply put token women on their boards and that a small group of qualified women would be called on to serve on several boards.
Criticism has decreased sharply since the regulation was introduced, said UHasselt post-doctoral researcher Hannelore Roos, who interviewed 40 CEOs, chairs and both executive and independent members of boards of directors. Although three-quarters of the companies they represent don’t meet the requirement yet, a mentality change has clearly taken place, they said.
Roos’ research shows that companies are reflecting on their staffing policies much more than before. To find a new director, for instance, they are looking beyond the usual – mostly male – networks. They are also turning to other sectors, like the academic world, to find female candidates.
The research also demonstrated that CEOs and board members also feel that the common assumptions they held in 2011 about the lack of women candidates have turned out to not be the case.
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