I have come across your article about the fact that there are still less than 14 percent positions in boards hold by women while women represent 47 percent of the workforce. Yes, it’s a fact, that men are more likely than women holding senior positions. I like how you are using the movie ‘12 Angry Men’ as trigger for your article and an analogy and I totally understand that. By the way, this movie is one of my favorites.
I highly respect and adore you. It’s clear from the article and more importantly from the way you run your businesses that you highly value women and their abilities. You can be taken as a great example of a man who is creating workplace environment that supports both, men and women in utilizing their best talents and potentials, co-creating amazing results and literally making the world a better place.
So what is that I don’t agree with? Taking to account the information from the European Commission that less than 14 percent of board positions are held by women, even you, Mr. Branson, think of supporting the idea of EU championing law to impose sanctions on companies in the European Union if less than 40 percent of their board members are women. “I am not usually a fan of government involvement in private industry, but on this issue it seems to be needed”, you say.
And I am saying, “Oh NO!
Here are my reasons why I don’t agree with you on the idea to have a law as a solution for not having same career opportunities for women as for men:
- Focus on quotas instead of on the real issue – let’s imagine that the quota is achieved. Tick off. Done. And what? Has the problem, the real problem been solved?
- What’ s the right quota? A study the British government commissioned on this problem recommended that by 2015, 25 percent of board members at the largest British companies should be women. Really? Do they really think that women, who want to create their desired career, care of the ‘right’ statistics?
- Command and control solution – Create a rule and the problem is fixed! Oh, how masculine this approach is! And it’s supposed to help women.
- What is the aim of this solution? – Is the percentage of women in senior roles really the problem that needs to be fixed? Isn’t it something much broader such as freedom to build any career anyone desires, without bias and prejudice?
Well, all the above is concerning me. But my key reason to not support any legislation setting quotas is the following.
I believe that personal freedom is the answer. Promoting freedom to make individual choices for what the individual wants as their career. The ideal situation is that anyone can create career they desire regardless of the gender. If it is a senior leadership role, board position or presidential role of the country, so be it. Go for it! If it is to be a full time parent and raising children for an amazing future of this planet, so be it! Regardless of the gender!
So what is the real problem here? The past conditioning, limiting beliefs, bias thoughts and prejudices that we hold on an individual as well as collective level. And I mean all of us, men as well as women. That needs to be changed and any law can’t change it! Any type of force creates a force against. Those who hold chauvinistic beliefs against women will not change them because of the law!
Mr. Branson, the world needs more men in boards positions that are like you, open minded, with no prejudices towards women and who are able to make best decisions based on the situation, not based on their own ego. The world needs more men who are willing and able to grow up from their own limiting beliefs and open the scape for women naturally.
Just imagine the door into the boardroom. And imagine that the door is open by an open-minded man who welcomes a new member of the board with open mind and open heart. The new member is a woman. She gets in and there are 12 other open-minded men. Wow.
Now imagine the same door being open by a man who is forced to do it by a law. He accepts the new woman member of the board. And there, inside the room, there are still those 12 angry men.
The goal is achieved. The number is met. But there is a difference, isn’t it?