Gender diversity

The Great Debate: Quotas, Targets And Which Reigns Supreme

We lay down the case for and against targets and quotas. However, there may be a simple answer.

By Lara Robertson

Gender diversity

We lay down the case for and against targets and quotas. However, there may be a simple answer.

By Lara Robertson

They’re terms you’ve probably heard thrown around a lot lately. After a handful of female politicians from the Liberal Party announced they were stepping down due to workplace bullying in the wake of the latest leadership spill, gender quotas and targets have once again become a hot topic. A number of proponents claim they are desperately needed to fix workplace “boy’s club” cultures. But politics is notoriously slow on the uptake. Over the past decade, gender quotas and targets have become increasingly more common as organisations come under pressure from board members, consumers, staff and investors to increase workplace diversity and inclusion. But what is the difference between these strategies, and how effective are they? We have your cheat sheet sorted.

Quotas are compulsory and non-negotiable objectives that must be fulfilled by organisations, which are set by an external and authoritative body. On the plus side, businesses are penalised if they fail to meet quotas. This is likely to incentivise them to increase the diversity in their organisation. Quotas may force a wider search for candidates, increasing the talent pool. Quotas are also a more immediate way to address female representation in an organisation. Liberty Sanger, Chair of Diversity and Inclusion at law firm Maurice Blackburn, says that quotas are essential for overcoming employer bias during the hiring process.

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Don’t forget to check out episode two ‘Step Aside, Andrew’ of our weekly podcast, hosted by Jamila Rizvi, which discusses quotas and targets.

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