Quotas are critical: Global Women's Summit President Irene Natividad

Quotas are critical: Global Women’s Summit President Irene Natividad

Quotas are the key to getting more women into corporate leadership roles according to the Global Summit of Women President Irene Natividad.

Speaking at the 2018 Summit, dubbed ‘Davos for women’ being held in Sydney this week, Natividad was unequivocal.

“Quotas are just a door that we need to push open,” she told delegates on Friday. “To move women into leadership roles we need to be aggressive or we’ll wait forever.”

Natividad pointed to the progress western European companies have made in recent years in terms of the representation of women on boards, against other parts of the world, as proof.

In France, for example, in 2004 women held just 7.2% of board seats while in 2018 they now hold 43.4%.

Natividad told the 1000 delegates gathered in Sydney that this quantum leap is explained by quotas.

While recognising they’re not always popular – “they trigger fear” in men and women –  Natividad said they are effective.

“Many many years ago there was a belief that if we educated women then naturally they would rise into leadership positions,” Natividad says.  “It is clear that ‘natural’ hasn’t worked.”

In addition to quotas Natividad said the introduction of corporate governance codes mandating diversity have also been effective at improving the representation of women in leadership if they are national.

The 2018 Global Women’s Summit is being held in Australia this week for the first time in 28 years.

The foreign minister Julie Bishop, minister for women Kelly O’Dwyer and summit co-chairs Lyn Lewis-Smith and Ann Sherry were among the high profile leaders who addressed the opening ceremony.

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