Working women

It seems that virtually every week there is a study about the lack of women in the boardrooms of Dutch companies. Time and time again the same problems are stated: the number of highly qualified Dutch women has risen but a large portion of them prefer to work part-time; employers are reluctant to accommodate a more flexible approach to work at the top.

And so we go on. Employers promise to redouble their efforts. New studies emerge showing that some progress has been booked but that the Netherlands still trails the rest of Europe in the number of female directors it has. The latest one, according to a newspaper report, puts Holland at the bottom of the list at the same level as Botswana.
According to the trade union federation FNV there is only one real solution: quotas. In Norway 40% of members of a management board have to be women. And according to FNV, such positive discrimination works; Spain and Denmark are now following Norway’s example.
A degree of compulsion is certainly necessary to break open the fusty practices of old boy’s networks and working methods. Granted a top job demands more than that of an office clerk. But productivity and commitment are not commensurate with the number of hours spent in a meeting or the number of memo’s emailed after midnight. Innovative and creative management expertise, social and communication skills and decisiveness are more important.
So come on, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende: start using some muscle to get companies to change their ways.

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