Proposal for Gender Affirmative Action in Europe
When applying for a Job but also to the university, Judging does not have to be only based on your skills, work experience, studies, grades but it can be largely affected also by your gender or race. The proper term for such an action is, “affirmative action” or “positive discrimination”. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, affirmative action can be defined as, “positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education and business from which they have been historically excluded.
Recently, there has been a great deal of discussion related to the proposal of European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Mrs. Viviane Reding. The proposal was on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges. Furthermore, proposal should ensure that by 2020, at least 40% of women should be represented on supervisory boards and boards of companies with more than 250 employees. According the collected statistics by European Commission, “women only make up to 15% of non-executive boards and 8,9% of executive boards.
First country in EIJ that came with this idea and implemented it was Norway in 2003. However, is such a proposal ethical? On one side, according to Viviane Reding, a glass ceiling still remains and blocks female talent from top positions. On the other side, positive discrimination, (artificially created) of any kind will always lead into reverse discrimination. Also, it violates one of the basic business concepts, speaking that this proposal restricts ownership of shareholders of the companies who have invested their capital.
They are not allowed to fully choose their representatives (non- xecutives, executives, management) by their most rational choice. If the shareholders have to take into account other criteria beside the ability of the best representation of the executives and directors, in this case, they have to decide upon gender. Then, the representation may be at the expense of effectiveness and managing the company which in turn goes to an expense of profits. Another points of view may be taken from the philosophical side. Utilitarian theory can be stated that an action should be based on the outcomes.
Firstly, some may say women enhance diversity in the companies. Secondly, having diverse environment may be a key factor for advancements or successful achievements of a company. Lastly, the ultimate end result which could be in a form of disappearance of gender glass ceiling. Looking at the affirmative action through these points, mention outcomes have clearly positive sides. The utilitarian theory can be similarly stated in terms that it tries to maximize happiness and reduce suffering. In such a statement, some cons may appear as well.
When applying for the position that is affected by the quotas, more men may be pplied than women and even if the skills of both genders would be comparable, in order to fulfill the quotas more/or even only women would be accepted than men. In such a case, majority is harmed and thus it does not maximize the happiness. Not having freedom of choice based on the skills harms majority again, this time the majority is represented by the shareholders and stakeholders and again, it is based on the theory, that the representation of the company will not be chosen in the best possible way, but in order to fulfill the restrictions..
Though, these points of view are nly hypothetical. Another well known philosophical theory which may be applied to this topic is Kantian theory. In principle, it states that in order to determine whether or not an action is good or ethical, we should imagine it as a universal law and determine whether or not that would be detrimental or good. Theoretically, such an affirmative action becoming a universal law would not lead into happiness of majority in society. Creating the quotas/regulations is not solving the problem, it is critical to rather change the approach to women at the workplace.
For instance, by using different tools to support the efforts to balance professional life and personal life which allow women to use their education and skills without a need to resign as mother and come to the decision between family and career. In conclusion, European Commissioner Viviane Reding with her proposal met certain supporters particularly in European Commission, but many opponents have argued as well, thus the proposal was postponed for now. I stand up in the opponents side against this proposal as almost any kind of affirmative action leads into reverse discrimination.