Laws forcing companies to make more women board members – It’s happening!

March 29, 2010

Some of my recent posts have taken on somewhat of a feminist tone, so why not keep the ball rolling? It’s not like the topic of women in the workplace is something that is completely irrelevant to venture capital firms or companies looking for capital – the topic actually tends to come up quite a bit. Looking internally at OpenView, the esteemed position of Principal of Finance, is occupied by a woman: Cynthia Mignogna. If you check out our portfolio companies, in 2008 we invested in an expansion stage company, Reality Digital, with a female CEO, Cynthia Francis.  It must be the name. Or the fact that they are both incredibly intelligent and driven individuals.

Just this month, the Economist came out with an article entitled “Skirting the Issue: Imposing Quotas for Women in Boardrooms Tackles a Symptom of Discrimination, Not the Cause.” Certain countries around the world are mandating that women hold board positions within their corporations. The article states, “In January the lower house of France’s parliament approved a new law which would force companies to fit the proportion of women on their boards to 40% by 2016. The law would oblige France’s biggest listed firms to put women into 169 seats currently occupied by men. Spain has also introduced a quota at 40%, to be reached by 2015.”

So why has it come to companies having to be forced by law to put women in powerful positions? The Economist article claims,”But what most prevents women from reaching the boardroom, says bosses and headhunters, is the lack of hands-on experience of a firm’s core business. Too many women go into the functional roles such as accounting, marketing or human resources early in their careers rather than staying in the mainstream, driving profits. Some do by choice, but others fear they will not get ahead in more chauvinist parts of the business.”

So what do you think – Is this the answer for gender equality in the workplace? Forcing businesses by law to make women board members? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts – please leave a comment!