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The Ethics of Quotas

Wednesday 10 August, 2022
by Anonymous

You're the Head of HR in a large bank and your organisation 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 Change Management. 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 was made to satisy 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

dice that spell out the word quota

What would you do?

What is the ethical tension presented here?

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There are 6 comments for The Ethics of Quotas.

Re: The Ethics of Quotas

Thursday 11 August, 2022
by Glenn
His threat to go to media should have him exited immediately. Clearly does not have the maturity to be elevated to senior role.
Life is full of little disappointments.
Do you want to work for a business in todays age which sees quota as the only way to redress gender imbalance?

Re: The Ethics of Quotas

Thursday 11 August, 2022
by Chris
I think this a good and very real and challenging scenario. So my position approach would be :
1) His manager (me !) shouldn't have made him think it was a gimme, yes encourage and help ppl move towards the next step, but always caveat with ; interviews are an unfair fight and someone amazing might apply. There is no gimme.
2) As to how to deal with Mark directly to the issue, I would probably take a multipronged approach :
a) I would talk to the panel and find out why Linda was such a good candidate so I could use some facts when talking to Mark and potentially where he missed the mark in his interview
b) I would council Mark about making assumptions and how unfair that is on different levels to Linda (and ideally back this up with some facts from the interview panel)
c) I would also look for opportunities to help Mark improve in areas where perhaps he fell short and (assuming he is a good competent worker) make honest attempts to find him that next step
d) Assuming that Linda is either superior fit (or very close to Mark) I would council him assertively on the risks of making unsubstantiated allegations and the impact that might have and ask him very clearly : what is your win position out of this. If you take the steps you are threatening, what do you perceive a "win" would look like.
3) More Generally, with quota's I would also council that although recruitment is a good tool for improving imbalances, we should also consider internal mentoring and growth of the target groups we want to uplift and look at achieving this via graduate programs and then support.

Re: The Ethics of Quotas

Thursday 11 August, 2022
by Chris
Our banks are not meritocracies, if they were the senior management teams would reflect the talent pool that comes through our universities, and women have progressed well in education over the last 4 decades. So here is the ethical dilemma. To counter the lack of a meritocracy we must have quotas. Having a crack at gender diversity hasn’t worked. For Mark, the individual he may well have to leave as the banks simply must improve their gender diversity in senior ranks.

Re: The Ethics of Quotas

Thursday 11 August, 2022
by Erica
I think the first thing you need to consider is why is the quota there in the first place?

Re: The Ethics of Quotas

Friday 12 August, 2022
by Siobhan
I was in this position a few years ago except I was the woman. I was given a role because I was a woman and because I met a quota. I was didn’t think I should take the role because I was more than just my gender and I thought I was the right person for the job. But I did take the role and have since then been able to provide personal development to other women and help build a stronger base of woman in this organisation for future roles. Whether quotas are the answer, I’m not sure but we sure as hell need more women in financial services, particularly in leadership.

Re: The Ethics of Quotas

Friday 12 August, 2022
by Chris H
I agree that Mark’s manager should not have mentioned that he is lined up for the role. This requires significant discretion on the manager’s part.

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