Some perspectives on women in work

Some news and articles around the world around international women’s day:

“I DON’T like quotas, but I like what quotas do,” says Viviane Reding, the European Union’s justice commissioner. A year ago she invited publicly listed firms to sign a pledge to increase the proportion of women on their boards to 30% by 2015 and 40% by 2020. If there was no significant progress within a year, she said at the time, “you can count on my regulatory creativity.” So far only 24 firms have signed.

Oh really.  Getting women to senior positions might be regulatory creativity.  But creating shareholder value and profitable organisations is not exactly under domain of regulatory creativity!

Only 13.7% of board members of large firms in the EU are women, up from 8.5% in 2003. Female presidents and chairwomen are even rarer: just 3.2% of the total now, compared with 1.6% in 2003. Women account for 60% of new graduates in the EU, and enter many occupations in roughly equal numbers with men. But with every step up the ladder more of them drop out, and near the top they almost disappear.

So there is a gender gap at higher positions.  But wait, there is actually gender bias, in women’s favour, at new graduate level.  But we are Europeans of EU style, we basically ignore any statistics where women are doing better than men, and consider only those where they are doing worse.  Bye bye equality, hello quotas!

Plenty of research suggests that companies with lots of women in senior positions are more successful than those without (even if there is no proof of a causal relationship). So it seems to make sense to get more women on boards. But how?

Plenty of common sense suggests that placing women in senior positions is not the cause of success, but meritocratic culture where both men and women have chance to advance based on performance.  If it was so easy to be successful in business merely by placing women in senior positions… you get the point!

Another news from India which shows many Indian corporates especially banks have women CEOs, and they rose to those position without benefit of any quota or special treatment.

ICICI Bank, which lends to corporations and individuals and offers insurance, investment banking and other financial services, has produced seven of India’s 14 top female financial professionals.

“ICICI has served as a bit of a CEO factory,” says Gunjan Bagla, managing director of Amritt Inc., which advises Western and Indian companies on working together.

“Many women who rose to top positions inside ICICI and its affiliate companies have since moved on to other entities in India.”

Another news of a women pilot who landed an aircraft on its tail.  Equal pay for equal work is all very well, how about position and pay according to competence and merit?

Manju V, TNNMar 13, 2012, 11.55PM IST

MUMBAI: The Air India commander who piloted the aircraft that had a tail strike while landing at Mumbai airport on Monday was, by all accounts, not proficient enough for the job. Promoted a few weeks ahead of Women’s Day despite a poor track record, there are allegations that this was a gender-related concession.

On Monday, Air India’s Ahmedabad-Mumbai flight AI614 was seconds away from touchdown when its tail hit the runway, causing considerable damage to the aircraft. That the tail of an A319 aircraft should hit the runway when landing has come as a shock to the aviation industry. Unlike other aircraft such as the A321 or the B737-800, an A319 is comparatively shorter and consequently, its nose has to be heavily pitched up for its tail to strike the ground. “It is close to impossible to do a tail strike on aircraft like A319 and B737-600 because of the short fuselage length,” said Capt M Ranganathan, an air-safety expert (see box). Said a source: “After the descent when the aircraft is over the runway, its nose is pitched upwards at an angle of about seven degrees. In this case, the angle was as high as 18 degrees.” This detail will be confirmed only after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) investigation into the accident is complete.

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