Women's Power List launch: 'Quotas can play a role'

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Richard Heap
March 10, 2017
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Women's Power List launch: 'Quotas can play a role'

Quotas for women on company management teams and boards can help to boost wind companies’ financial performance – but should be used sparingly.

That was the view of our speakers at the launch of our Women’s Power List, which we published in partnership with Green Giraffe, on Tuesday. They highlighted that there are steps firms should take to boost diversity and improve their returns, but added that there are steps that women in the sector must take themselves.

Juliet Davenport, chief executive at utility Good Energy and co-founder of campaign group Powerful Women, said quotas should be used in a similar way to the way subsidies have been used in the wind sector: as a short-term measure to help “get things started” until market-based mechanisms are able to take over.



She said that quotas for women in top roles should be used where companies want to make a big change quickly, and should only be used for a short period of time.

“My view is that quotas are not the end of the world,” she said. “If they are going to be there then they should short-term to get things moving, and then once you get used to [greater gender diversity] then it becomes obvious and it becomes normal.”

She said that having men and women at all levels of companies ensured that they were fully-functioning organisations. In total, Ernst & Young has reported that only 16% of board level roles in the world’s 200 largest utilities are women, and most of these are in non-executive roles, with only 14% of management roles are women. Davenport said renewables was more progressive, but there is still a long way to go.

Teresa O’Flynn, managing director at BlackRock, added that diversity was good for the financial performance of companies,
but that businesses would only be able to take steps to improve diversity if they have data on the composition of their teams.

“They have something at Weightwatchers: ‘If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count’,” she said. “Diversity is good, and we do need to change the statistics a little bit, and we have to be very deliberate about how we go about it.”

However, she added that women could help themselves to get more senior positions by being vocal about their achievements and pushing for top roles. O’Flynn said too many women suffered from ‘tiara syndrome’, where they get on quietly doing a good job in the hope of being given a promotion – the ‘tiara’ – but end up being ignored as managers focus on more vocal colleagues.

She said it was very easy to be forgotten in a big organisation, but that she has focused on building her profile in her career.

Barbara Zuiderwijk, co-founder of Green Giraffe, added that quotas could force firms to find talented but modest candidates; and challenged complaints about quotas.

“For me, it’s about why are people against quotas? It’s because they want to have the best person for the job. It doesn’t mean that if you have the quotas, that you’re not going to have the best person for the job. It might mean you’re looking harder,” she said, though added women should also seek to raise their profiles.

Indeed, one striking comment from a headhunter in the audience was that when she was approaching potential candidates, men would answer her calls 80% of the time and women only 20%.

Greater diversity can benefit businesses, but it is not solely up to businesses to address it. Women in wind must play their part.

Quotas for women on company management teams and boards can help to boost wind companies’ financial performance – but should be used sparingly.

That was the view of our speakers at the launch of our Women’s Power List, which we published in partnership with Green Giraffe, on Tuesday. They highlighted that there are steps firms should take to boost diversity and improve their returns, but added that there are steps that women in the sector must take themselves.

Juliet Davenport, chief executive at utility Good Energy and co-founder of campaign group Powerful Women, said quotas should be used in a similar way to the way subsidies have been used in the wind sector: as a short-term measure to help “get things started” until market-based mechanisms are able to take over.



She said that quotas for women in top roles should be used where companies want to make a big change quickly, and should only be used for a short period of time.

“My view is that quotas are not the end of the world,” she said. “If they are going to be there then they should short-term to get things moving, and then once you get used to [greater gender diversity] then it becomes obvious and it becomes normal.”

She said that having men and women at all levels of companies ensured that they were fully-functioning organisations. In total, Ernst & Young has reported that only 16% of board level roles in the world’s 200 largest utilities are women, and most of these are in non-executive roles, with only 14% of management roles are women. Davenport said renewables was more progressive, but there is still a long way to go.

Teresa O’Flynn, managing director at BlackRock, added that diversity was good for the financial performance of companies,
but that businesses would only be able to take steps to improve diversity if they have data on the composition of their teams.

“They have something at Weightwatchers: ‘If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count’,” she said. “Diversity is good, and we do need to change the statistics a little bit, and we have to be very deliberate about how we go about it.”

However, she added that women could help themselves to get more senior positions by being vocal about their achievements and pushing for top roles. O’Flynn said too many women suffered from ‘tiara syndrome’, where they get on quietly doing a good job in the hope of being given a promotion – the ‘tiara’ – but end up being ignored as managers focus on more vocal colleagues.

She said it was very easy to be forgotten in a big organisation, but that she has focused on building her profile in her career.

Barbara Zuiderwijk, co-founder of Green Giraffe, added that quotas could force firms to find talented but modest candidates; and challenged complaints about quotas.

“For me, it’s about why are people against quotas? It’s because they want to have the best person for the job. It doesn’t mean that if you have the quotas, that you’re not going to have the best person for the job. It might mean you’re looking harder,” she said, though added women should also seek to raise their profiles.

Indeed, one striking comment from a headhunter in the audience was that when she was approaching potential candidates, men would answer her calls 80% of the time and women only 20%.

Greater diversity can benefit businesses, but it is not solely up to businesses to address it. Women in wind must play their part.

Quotas for women on company management teams and boards can help to boost wind companies’ financial performance – but should be used sparingly.

That was the view of our speakers at the launch of our Women’s Power List, which we published in partnership with Green Giraffe, on Tuesday. They highlighted that there are steps firms should take to boost diversity and improve their returns, but added that there are steps that women in the sector must take themselves.

Juliet Davenport, chief executive at utility Good Energy and co-founder of campaign group Powerful Women, said quotas should be used in a similar way to the way subsidies have been used in the wind sector: as a short-term measure to help “get things started” until market-based mechanisms are able to take over.



She said that quotas for women in top roles should be used where companies want to make a big change quickly, and should only be used for a short period of time.

“My view is that quotas are not the end of the world,” she said. “If they are going to be there then they should short-term to get things moving, and then once you get used to [greater gender diversity] then it becomes obvious and it becomes normal.”

She said that having men and women at all levels of companies ensured that they were fully-functioning organisations. In total, Ernst & Young has reported that only 16% of board level roles in the world’s 200 largest utilities are women, and most of these are in non-executive roles, with only 14% of management roles are women. Davenport said renewables was more progressive, but there is still a long way to go.

Teresa O’Flynn, managing director at BlackRock, added that diversity was good for the financial performance of companies,
but that businesses would only be able to take steps to improve diversity if they have data on the composition of their teams.

“They have something at Weightwatchers: ‘If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count’,” she said. “Diversity is good, and we do need to change the statistics a little bit, and we have to be very deliberate about how we go about it.”

However, she added that women could help themselves to get more senior positions by being vocal about their achievements and pushing for top roles. O’Flynn said too many women suffered from ‘tiara syndrome’, where they get on quietly doing a good job in the hope of being given a promotion – the ‘tiara’ – but end up being ignored as managers focus on more vocal colleagues.

She said it was very easy to be forgotten in a big organisation, but that she has focused on building her profile in her career.

Barbara Zuiderwijk, co-founder of Green Giraffe, added that quotas could force firms to find talented but modest candidates; and challenged complaints about quotas.

“For me, it’s about why are people against quotas? It’s because they want to have the best person for the job. It doesn’t mean that if you have the quotas, that you’re not going to have the best person for the job. It might mean you’re looking harder,” she said, though added women should also seek to raise their profiles.

Indeed, one striking comment from a headhunter in the audience was that when she was approaching potential candidates, men would answer her calls 80% of the time and women only 20%.

Greater diversity can benefit businesses, but it is not solely up to businesses to address it. Women in wind must play their part.

Quotas for women on company management teams and boards can help to boost wind companies’ financial performance – but should be used sparingly.

That was the view of our speakers at the launch of our Women’s Power List, which we published in partnership with Green Giraffe, on Tuesday. They highlighted that there are steps firms should take to boost diversity and improve their returns, but added that there are steps that women in the sector must take themselves.

Juliet Davenport, chief executive at utility Good Energy and co-founder of campaign group Powerful Women, said quotas should be used in a similar way to the way subsidies have been used in the wind sector: as a short-term measure to help “get things started” until market-based mechanisms are able to take over.



She said that quotas for women in top roles should be used where companies want to make a big change quickly, and should only be used for a short period of time.

“My view is that quotas are not the end of the world,” she said. “If they are going to be there then they should short-term to get things moving, and then once you get used to [greater gender diversity] then it becomes obvious and it becomes normal.”

She said that having men and women at all levels of companies ensured that they were fully-functioning organisations. In total, Ernst & Young has reported that only 16% of board level roles in the world’s 200 largest utilities are women, and most of these are in non-executive roles, with only 14% of management roles are women. Davenport said renewables was more progressive, but there is still a long way to go.

Teresa O’Flynn, managing director at BlackRock, added that diversity was good for the financial performance of companies,
but that businesses would only be able to take steps to improve diversity if they have data on the composition of their teams.

“They have something at Weightwatchers: ‘If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count’,” she said. “Diversity is good, and we do need to change the statistics a little bit, and we have to be very deliberate about how we go about it.”

However, she added that women could help themselves to get more senior positions by being vocal about their achievements and pushing for top roles. O’Flynn said too many women suffered from ‘tiara syndrome’, where they get on quietly doing a good job in the hope of being given a promotion – the ‘tiara’ – but end up being ignored as managers focus on more vocal colleagues.

She said it was very easy to be forgotten in a big organisation, but that she has focused on building her profile in her career.

Barbara Zuiderwijk, co-founder of Green Giraffe, added that quotas could force firms to find talented but modest candidates; and challenged complaints about quotas.

“For me, it’s about why are people against quotas? It’s because they want to have the best person for the job. It doesn’t mean that if you have the quotas, that you’re not going to have the best person for the job. It might mean you’re looking harder,” she said, though added women should also seek to raise their profiles.

Indeed, one striking comment from a headhunter in the audience was that when she was approaching potential candidates, men would answer her calls 80% of the time and women only 20%.

Greater diversity can benefit businesses, but it is not solely up to businesses to address it. Women in wind must play their part.

Quotas for women on company management teams and boards can help to boost wind companies’ financial performance – but should be used sparingly.

That was the view of our speakers at the launch of our Women’s Power List, which we published in partnership with Green Giraffe, on Tuesday. They highlighted that there are steps firms should take to boost diversity and improve their returns, but added that there are steps that women in the sector must take themselves.

Juliet Davenport, chief executive at utility Good Energy and co-founder of campaign group Powerful Women, said quotas should be used in a similar way to the way subsidies have been used in the wind sector: as a short-term measure to help “get things started” until market-based mechanisms are able to take over.



She said that quotas for women in top roles should be used where companies want to make a big change quickly, and should only be used for a short period of time.

“My view is that quotas are not the end of the world,” she said. “If they are going to be there then they should short-term to get things moving, and then once you get used to [greater gender diversity] then it becomes obvious and it becomes normal.”

She said that having men and women at all levels of companies ensured that they were fully-functioning organisations. In total, Ernst & Young has reported that only 16% of board level roles in the world’s 200 largest utilities are women, and most of these are in non-executive roles, with only 14% of management roles are women. Davenport said renewables was more progressive, but there is still a long way to go.

Teresa O’Flynn, managing director at BlackRock, added that diversity was good for the financial performance of companies,
but that businesses would only be able to take steps to improve diversity if they have data on the composition of their teams.

“They have something at Weightwatchers: ‘If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t count’,” she said. “Diversity is good, and we do need to change the statistics a little bit, and we have to be very deliberate about how we go about it.”

However, she added that women could help themselves to get more senior positions by being vocal about their achievements and pushing for top roles. O’Flynn said too many women suffered from ‘tiara syndrome’, where they get on quietly doing a good job in the hope of being given a promotion – the ‘tiara’ – but end up being ignored as managers focus on more vocal colleagues.

She said it was very easy to be forgotten in a big organisation, but that she has focused on building her profile in her career.

Barbara Zuiderwijk, co-founder of Green Giraffe, added that quotas could force firms to find talented but modest candidates; and challenged complaints about quotas.

“For me, it’s about why are people against quotas? It’s because they want to have the best person for the job. It doesn’t mean that if you have the quotas, that you’re not going to have the best person for the job. It might mean you’re looking harder,” she said, though added women should also seek to raise their profiles.

Indeed, one striking comment from a headhunter in the audience was that when she was approaching potential candidates, men would answer her calls 80% of the time and women only 20%.

Greater diversity can benefit businesses, but it is not solely up to businesses to address it. Women in wind must play their part.

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Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.