Is positive discrimination the right way to promote women in business?

Invetigo logo recruiting talentWomen in business is one of the most hotly debated topics of the last decade, particularly as the significant pay gap has somewhat stubbornly remained between the genders.

In September last year Emma Watson’s iconic gender equality speech to the UN launching the HeForShe campaign made waves across the internet, rapidly garnering over six million views and once again thrusting the agenda of women in business to the forefront of public discussion. Watson’s speech was particularly effective at reigniting the debate as she identified feminism and gender equality as a cause for both men and women to drive.

Subsequently, several high profile male celebrities championed the HeForShe campaign, with ambassadors including musicians Jared Leto and Harry Styles and actors Tom Hiddleston and Simon Pegg.

Closer to home, as of July 2014 there are no all-male boards in the FTSE100, which to me illustrates that businesses are finally recognising the valuable and alternative dynamic women can contribute. Government is now actively supporting this agenda, with Secretary of State for Business Innovation & Skills, Vince Cable pushing for 25% women on FTSE 100 boards by 2015.

However, while progress in this space is important, the implementation of gender equality by some in business does not always aid the cause. In a past life, I was ecstatic to be offered a role with a global organisation. Then the Managing Director said “we really want you to join our business as we don’t have any female Directors at the moment”. Whilst this was a fantastic career opportunity, I felt that my gender was playing a larger role in my selection than was normal. Like most other professionals, I want to be hired for my skills and ability, not based on my gender, so I turned the offer down.

Positive discrimination is a controversial topic defined as “the process of giving preferential treatment, especially in employment, to minority groups of society that have been prejudiced against in the past.”

When hiring at senior levels, positive discrimination does more to harm women in the corporate world than help us. Equality does not mean special treatment. At the end of the day, the best person for the role should be hired, regardless of race, religion, status or gender.

Please connect with Hayley on LinkedIn if you are also passionate about women in business.

About HayleyHayley Downing Profile

Hayley is an Associate Director at Investigo and heads up the Finance & Audit team within the Banking & Financial Services division. With over 9 years of Recruitment experience with extensive exposure in the highly competitive London market and also in South East Asia, having worked for both established and start up businesses on a global scale.

Hayley is passionate about building strong relationships with clients and candidates as well as diversifying Investigo’s portfolio.

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