Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Directorinas wanted

Meet Jean-Claude Moreau. Brussels' answer to Ramamritham.  It is well known that Homo Sapiens Ramamrithamitis is thriving beautifully in Brussels  under the umbrella of the European Commission. Monsieur Moreau has excelled himself in a number of fields and he is keeping with this tradition in trying to bring legislation that women should have a quota of 40% on the Boards of European companies.

We in India, know all about quotas and reservations. But surely Europe has better sense. Apparently not. M Moreau noted, after years of diligent research, that women only constitute 13.7% of directors in large listed companies in Europe. Given that women certainly constitute 50% of the population, and apparently 45% of the workforce, this was considered totally unacceptable.The Solution ? Legislate a quota. Wow. Only a Jean-Claude Moreau can think of that. It would be hard to think of a dumber idea.

There is no doubt at all that women in the workplace are discriminated against by culture, by religion and by male chauvinism in many parts of the world.  But only rarely so in Europe. The reason why women don't occupy a natural 50% in the Boardroom there is down to two things - a male club that does not easily let in others and the difficulty of getting good childcare which makes talented women drop out midway in their careers.

The male club is rapidly dwindling away, at least in Europe. Sheer talent cannot be suppressed anymore thanks to the brutality of the market. In major corporations today, I dare say, merit usually stands. The market ensures that there is a 100% quota for merit - man, woman or otherwise. No thank you, M Moreau for your contribution. Sure the glass ceiling exists in many places, but the speed at which it is crumbling will be far greater than what M Moreau is capable of in action.

The real problem why women are underrepresented in senior management is simply the age old problem - women sacrificing their career for children. M Moreau has two options to solve that problem. One is to allow free immigration of Filipino nannies - the good that will do to the world as a whole is immeasurable. If he doesn't have the guts to do that, the alternative is for him and his fellow bureaucrates to all become child minders - that way they will contribute more to the society than being babus and dreaming up silly ideas like quota for women on Boards.

I have another suggestion for M Moreau. First introduce a quota of 40% for women amongst the senior babus in Brussels. Then we shall see about Boards of private companies.

PS - Jean-Claude Moreau is a figment of my imagination, just as Ramamritham is, and has the same qualities. In the unlikely event that a  real JC Moreau ever reads this, no offence mate !

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