The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has called for government contractors to enforce new gender quotas when hiring new employees. Under the new proposal put forth by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, government contractors will be forced to employ 40% women in order to fill the alleged gender pay gap. This immoral and unethical push by the left to have greater female representation by setting gender quotas is not only an act of injustice, it can be harmful in the long run.
The AHRC has, yet again, flaunted its commitment to ignoring equality in favour of privilege, this time through the use of reverse sexism. The new requirements would mean that employees will not be hired based on skill or talent, but rather on whether they belong to a particular identity group. A woman will be hired simply for being a woman in an effort to fulfil arbitrary gender targets, rather than individuals being hired based on their skills and qualifications.
Once again, we are shown that, in this day and age, it is the right-wing that is doing a much better job at upholding left-wing values like equality than the left itself. This is not gender equality. Gender equality would entail an assessment of individuals as equals based on their skills and qualifications. In contrast, this proposal is simply an unjust preference of women over men simply because the former belongs to a particular gender. Isn’t this the exact sort of sexism and gender inequality that feminism was meant to oppose?
Tony Abbott has rightly criticised this revived push for gender quotas by an organisation that does not have the interests of all Australians at heart (remember, the AHRC founded 18C). The conservative former Prime Minister, while stating he is committed to “absolutely give women a fair go”, criticised the proposal as “anti-men” fuelled by “politically correct rubbish”. He’s right. With gender quotas in place, a female may be prioritised over a male who is more deserving of the job.
Gender equality does not support males being prioritised over more-deserving females simply because of their gender, nor should it support females being prioritised over more-deserving males. This is simply a new wave of gender privilege, this time females being given the higher ground over males rather than vice versa, instead of all individuals being assessed using neutral measures.
The use of gender quotas can also harm the honour and self-esteem of many individuals who are admitted into a certain position simply because of their gender. CEO of JPMorgan, Mary Callahan Erdoes, “fundamentally disagrees with” gender quotas because “You don’t want to be there because of a quota. You want to be there because you earned it”. What is the point if someone is chosen based on their relation to an identity group rather than based on their merit?
The Washington Post reported that many businesswomen share Erdoes’ view, as quotas will mean women will simply be hired as tokens or accessories rather than because they can constructively add something to the workplace. If anything, gender quotas further make it harder for women to participate in the workplace in the long-run, further making it evident that the left is regressive. Imagine the lesson we are giving our children by telling them that women can get into a position simply because of their gender, and not because they actually earned it. The harm this poses to society is extraordinarily obvious.
Not only are gender quotas morally and ethically deficient, but are harmful in the long run and do not achieve results. A book about Norway’s gender quotas by Nima Sanadaji, titled ‘The Nordi Gender Equality Paradox’, studies the impact of gender quotas on both women and companies. It shows that overall results of Norway’s introduction of 40% gender quotas for board members in public companies were negative, with 1/5 of affected companies having to drastically change their structure. Overall share prices dropped 3.5%, and there was little to no impact on women’s pay or the number of women entering the business world.
The reported drop in share prices was heavily influenced by the fact that companies had to promote younger, less experienced women into the company board, instead of choosing individuals based on skills and talents as they usually would. The results also included a jump in leverage and acquisitions, with reductions in operating performance. It resulted in the wrong women being chosen due to the enforcement of gender quotas, rather than individuals chosen based on merit. Gender quotas simply don’t work.
Leaving aside the practical argument revealing the futility of gender quotas, it is the moral argument that takes the spotlight. It is hypocritical to preach gender equality on one occasion, and then want women to be chosen simple because of their gender on other occasions. Gender quotas ignore the real way to achieve gender equality: assessing people as individuals rather than considering which identity group they originate from. The AHRC’s failure to recognise this fundamental aspect of equality renders it useless and dangerous to Australian society and, along with its push for 18C, is yet another example of why the whole organisation should be abolished.