Xerox CEO: gender quotas won’t work

Employers are being urged to show a real, invested interest – rather than meeting the bare legal requirements

Xerox CEO: gender quotas won’t work
Ursula Burns is by no means the stereotypical CEO – she is the first African American woman to lead a major US corporation and is widely recognised as one of the most powerful women in the world – but that doesn’t mean she’s overlooked the alarming disparity which survives in the C-suite.

“Half the world are women, but they are literally in single-digit numbers in the C-suite,” said the frank-speaking New Yorker. “How in the hell can that be?”

On average, women hold 11% of board seats at the world’s largest companies. Norway — the first country in the world to impose a gender quota for large corporations — leads the way, with women accounting for 36.1% of board members but Burns said this isn’t as a result of an imposed quota but rather a different corporate mentality.

The situation in Dubai supports her claim – in December 2012, a law was issued obliging government departments and related companies to include women on their boards, yet women make up just 1.5% of seats.

“You can keep setting all the quotas you want, and you can make a law, and still the overwhelming majority of the women would never have access to those seats,” said Burns.

Instead, companies need to show a genuine and dedicated interest in training and developing women for executive positions, said Burns.

The 56-year-old businesswoman has worked with Xerox since 1980, when she began her career as a summer intern – by 2009 Burns became CEO and the following year she was made chairman.
She said her success is largely down to luck – “I just happened to go to a company that was really interested,” she said. “Not by law, but just really interested.”

Recent articles & video

Return to office challenge: terminations upheld in courts

E-recruitment in Malaysia sees 16% annual growth

'Skills-First Transformation' growing more popular for firms globally: report

Government 'working on aligning' skills mismatch in Malaysia

Most Read Articles

Southeast Asia expecting salary increases in 2024

Employers requiring in-office attendance to enforce hybrid work

Middle managers unrecognised in addressing talent challenges: report