The UN theme for International Women’s Day on Saturday is: Equality for women is progress for all. One glance at the FT graphic on women in senior management, published on Friday, suggests this progress is now happening on a global scale – but with some perhaps surprising results.
In the middle of the western world’s annual holiday shopping spree – which runs from the day after Thanksgiving to the end of the January sales – even hardened shoppers may occasionally feel exploited.
Many economists – including the FT’s Chris Giles – feel the anti-consumption mood is “profoundly wrong”. Business academic Linda Scott, whom I interviewed for the FT’s “Thinking Big” series of videos on radical ideas, goes a step further: she believes the consumer free market has the potential to unleash vast benefits, particularly for women in developing countries – as consumers, investors, donors and workers.
Quotas are always controversial. So Deutsche Telekom’s announcement on Monday that it is introducing a target to have 30 per cent of its top and middle management drawn from women by 2015 is likely to provoke a big debate.
But, quota or not, the German telecom group’s move makes far more sense than competing quotas in countries such as Norway.
That is because it focuses on executives, not non-executives. To recap, Norway has led the way with imposing a 40 per cent quota of female non-executive directors on its biggest companies.