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The ethics of quotas

Tuesday 19 October, 2021
by 2021 BFSO Young Ambassador

You’re the head of HR in a large bank. Your company has recently committed to a new gender quota, encouraging more diversity into leadership positions within the workplace.

Mark has recently interviewed for the vacant position of Head of Everyday Banking. The role was given to Linda, who was an external hire. It had been informally suggested to Mark by his manager that his performance was on track to be successful in the role. Mark believes Linda’s appointment was not fully based on merit, but to satisfy the new quota. Mark intends on making a formal complaint and contacting the media, and has informed you he’s looking at alternative employment at other banks. 

What would you do?

  • What is the ethical tension presented here? 

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Photo by Roland Samuel on Unsplash


There are 3 comments for The ethics of quotas.

Re: The ethics of quotas

Wednesday 20 October, 2021
by Zac
It should be merit based. Quotas by the way the operate are discriminatory.

Re: The ethics of quotas

Wednesday 20 October, 2021
by Sienna
Quotas are important if we want to continue to strive for gender diversity. Research shows that the gender pay gap is not only because women are may lack confidence or aren't willing because they lack negotiating skills or have made 'career limiting' moves - it is also because culturally early on men and women's roles take on different characteristics. Men are given more responsibilities and larger teams to manage.Men are preferred to manage larger groups and women smaller groups. This is associating stereotypes such as assertiveness and aggression with men. Until these patterns and systemic issues are dealt with quotas are essential if we are to live up to the promises of diversity and inclusion. And what does merit mean as a measurement when it comes to gender...that women might not have it??

Re: The ethics of quotas

Friday 22 October, 2021
by Damien
Mark's manager was right in his/her opinion that Mark could be successful in the role as proven by the first step being Mark invited to the first interview. Being a Head of role in a large bank I would expect there would be several interviews and the successful candidate would have gone through all those interviews, Mark did not. The external hire may have had additional experience and/or skills that Mark did not have which supported the progression through all of her interviews. Mark could seek in-the-moment feedback from the HR interviewing/recruiting officer on what areas he could focus on to be more successful in future if he was interested in that type of role. Making a complaint would need to be fact based and it appears Mark has an opinion and no facts. Going to the media again would not be advised as again it is just Mark's opinion. As the Head of HR and knowing that Mark is looking elsewhere I would encourage Mark to have a career discussion with the appropriate HR consultant to help Mark work through where he sees his short term and mid term career next steps. That way Mark is supported in his progression discussions which should focus on his transferrable skills and not on his gender.

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