California may reportedly be the first state in the country that requires a publicly listed company to have female members in its Board of Directors to a certain extent. The bill, if passed, is aimed to improve the gender diversity as women are absent at the board level of 25% of the public traded companies. While the move may have a good intention, I doubt that it’s necessary.
Gender equality has received a tsunami of attention in the past couple of years with the #Metoo and feminism movements. Speaking of businesses alone, we have a lot of female leaders in various industries nowadays such as Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, Indra Nooyi, Diane Greene, Stephanie McMahon, Dhivya Suryadevara – the new 39-year-old CFO of GM or the first ever black female CEO of BP, stationed in South Africa, – Priscillah Mabelane, just to name a few. Then we have Angela Merkel or Michelle Obama in politics, Serena Williams in sports or Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys in entertainment, just a few examples. The best way to ensure the gender equality, in my opinion, is to treat each gender equally, keep the narrative going to avoid complacency and return to the status quo, and encourage girls or female professionals that they can achieve the same as their male counterparts without the relying on social pressure. Those wonderful female leaders, among so many others around the world, should give them hope and inspiration.
The bill by California’s government may create backlash as companies may argue that a female candidate is only chosen over a male peer simply to avoid a regulatory fine. In reality, an appointment decision varies from one case to another. Nonetheless, the bill, if passed, may unnecessarily leave a taint on a female’s appointment.
The gender scale should be balanced, on its own. Sure, it has been tipped to one side for far too long (I personally benefited from the inequality), but it’s a good thing that things are naturally heading towards equilibrium. Forcefully tipping the scale to the other side in the name of equality may not be any different from the male dominance in the past. In other words, how would a female professional feel if she was hired only because of the law and not because of her qualifications? Personally, I believe that fairness trumps unnecessary partiality.
Females are more empowered than ever. Unfortunately, there are still industries and companies with gender inequality, but the tide will go against them soon. I believe that those companies will soon realize that they cannot afford the inequality anymore and that gender equality is for their own good.