Women on top? Sure we can!

11 Sep

I got some pretty heated reactions to last week’s column, in which I called on voters to vote for a woman in tomorrow’s parliamentary elections. “Bullshit! You don’t actually think I’m going to vote for a woman just because she is a woman? That doesn’t say anything about her competence does it?” And “There we go again, affirmative action is sooo last season.”
As I am responding to some of those letters, I notice an incoming press release. “Slow rise of women to the top” says the headline. Dutch university Nyenrode presents the annual Female Board Index. Just like last year and the year before, the report does not paint a pretty picture of the Dutch corporate landscape. Only 74 of 711 board members are female, meaning a meagre 10,4%. More than half of all 96 listed companies do not have a single woman on their boards. And it’s not just women who are underrepresented: the average age of supervisory board members is 61.5, and 52,6 for the board of directors.
In other words: what we buy, wear, eat and earn is still largely decided by older white men. 
I can’t help but think of Mark Rutte, our incumbent prime minister, who less than two years ago presented his government of old white men. He laughed at criticism on the lack of diversity on his team. They chose for “quality”. And of course, that’s what those 52% of all companies without women on their boards are doing too, chosing for quality.
Bit stupid, if you ask me.In a world where women make up around 60% of all students, take 85% of all purchasing decisions and represent over half of the population, you’d better have them on board.TNT “Sure we can” Express is the only company who seems to get that: they are the only one reaching the 30% norm that was agreed on last year. Let’s hope our new government does the same.

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