A n A number of years ago, I was honored to receive a request from a colleague inviting me to be a member of their board. I respected the reputation of this colleague and was pleased he would think of me. Once the delight
of the news died down however, I had to ask myself ‘why did he
choose me’? I reviewed the company’s information and being one
who always likes to add value, I emailed him asking what in
particular of my professional skill set was of interest as a
participating board member. His response was that they wanted to
add a ‘strong & confident’ woman to their board and that I was their
first choice. I politely declined the position. Had he noted that I
would provide value via collaboration, or insight into positive
growth, I would have leapt at the opportunity.
Before this, I heard of the public consultation held by the Ontario
Securities Commission (the OSC) surrounding women sitting on
boards by TSX listed issuers. I remembered thinking that it should
not be the job of our regulators or our politicians to set ‘quotas’ of
any kind within a business’s hiring practice. Such policies could
very easily create inequality amongst our up and coming qualified
males. It got me thinking more about the politics behind it, rather
than what was published as the desired outcome.
Politicians across the globe are finding ways to strengthen presumed
minorities whilst equally creating a divide that inevitably will serve
their purpose rather than the good of the ‘community’. Why do they
do this you ask? Because by creating a divide or conflict, you draw
society away from dealing with it as a community and effectually
create reliance on government (or in this case our regulators) to
solve the issue.
As the years have passed, I have received a number of similar
requests for board positions from companies attempting to take
advantage of the moral politics of gender diversity – including from
female colleagues, and unfortunately the majority of them respond
in a similar fashion when I asked what ‘value’ I would bring.
To be frank, I do not wish to be a token female, rather I would prefer
I be chosen to participate on a board due to my diverse skill set
rather than from what bathroom I use.
By Nancy Bacon