With the country’s Affirmative Action plan’s annual reporting (EEO1) due at the end of the month, the idea of equality in the workforce comes into question and how to best ensure equal representation, especially in the higher level positions. Affirmative Action was implemented as a way to promote equal opportunity to all employees regardless of race, national origin or gender. But is it working and to what extent? A recent studyfound that while “women are half the population, they account for only 15% of the board members at big American firms and only 10% inEurope.” This would imply that although the workforce may be representative at lower level positions, as rank increases, minority numbers begin to decline. Many European companies are beginning to implement quota’s which require companies to promote more women to executive and board positions. The question is, does this work and what can we do to ensure greater equality?
There’s no easy answer, as this has been an ongoing problem for both the United Statesand abroad. In the case of women in the workforce, it’s fair to say we’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got a ways to go. There are a number of issues at play here, and implementing quotas likely won’t solve them. Traditionally women have been the primary caregiver for their families. These executive and board positions typically require longer hours with weekend and evening work. Women often self-select themselves not to pursue these roles earlier in their career than men, and choose to create a better balance with their family life. As a result as it comes time for promotion, there are statistically less women to choose from. Also, while the glass ceiling has been raised for women, research shows it does still exist, creating a further bump in the road for many women. The extra time and effort to put into an executive position may not be worth it based on the pay differential. Quotas likely won’t solve these problems, but rather we need a switch in the mindset of American businesses. But how? What can we do to lessen the gap?