Guest post from Soozey Johnstone on why we need quotas for women in leadership

Being involved in the #TechDiversity community means I get to rub shoulders on a regular basis with an inspiring group of men and women — none more so than my fellow co-founder of the alliance, Soozey Johnstone. Soozey is a talented author and executive team coach, a #TechDiversity leader in every way.
Soozey Johnstone
Soozey Johnstone

Today Soozey has graciously allowed us to re-blog one of her most recent articles: The 3 reasons that I believe in quotas for women in leadership. She discusses frankly why her attitude towards the idea of quotas for women in leadership has changed, and provides much food for for thought.

When you get to the bottom of the extract here, I hope you will click through and read the full article on LinkedIn.

The 3 reasons that I believe in quotas for women in leadership

Author: Soozey Johnstone

Last night I enjoyed a surprise phone call from a total stranger that went something like this:

“I have a six month old daughter. I’d like to think that by the time she hits the workforce in 20 years, the working world will be a much better place for women. I’d like to see more women in leadership, more women having a voice and making a difference in corporate Australia.”

Tom had read one of recent online articles titled Should Women In Leadership Man Up?

Tom and I had never met and yet we immediately connected at a very deep level in one short phone call. We both wanted meaningful change.

I tossed and turned most of last night mulling over the challenge of women in leadership positions. I thought back to the #TechDiversity conference that I MC’d last year and the wise words of our Deputy Lord Mayor Susan Riley as she stamped her black patent leather shoes on the floor boards of the Regent Theatre saying “I’m over it!” regarding gender diversity in technology.

At about 4am I decided that it really is time for quotas for women if we are going to grease the wheels of change in all sorts of areas in life – it’s a well-worn debate in politics, of course – but I’m talking about senior exec teams, and Boards.

Up until quite recently I used to be very “anti” the idea of quotas for women in leadership. I resented the idea of women taking leadership roles just because of a quota. I always felt that women should prove themselves alongside all the blokes going for the same role and get the job on merit rather than privilege. 

So, what’s changed?

For starters, I feel myself getting a little angrier every year in response to the snail’s pace increase in the number of women in leadership roles. It’s my experience working with a variety of women in senior roles and on the path to senior roles – many of them still banging their heads aimlessly against the glass ceiling – that has most influenced my mindset around this contentious issue.

Some of these women are amongst the most talented and committed people I’ve met. But they are limited by their gender. That’s just morally wrong, and no amount of pious platitudes from men can gloss over the fact that it’s just plain wrong. What’s more, businesses and organisations are wilfully missing out on the talents these women offer.

There are simply too many turf-protecting inhibitors getting in the way when research proves that the under-utilisation of women is costly for business and for our economy.

Why quotas? Well I’d like to see some significant change during my time on the planet and I reckon I have about 40 years left. And I’m not just talking about gender diversity either but let’s start with that. Let’s tackle the diversity challenge one step at a time…

Read the rest of Soozey’s fascinating and important post on LinkedIn.


Soozey Johnstone is a writer, thought leader and advisor to senior executive teams. She is the author of I Am The Problem, outlining the 9 key obstacles that lead to organisational success, and why some businesses grow and prosper while others inevitably stumble and decline.
Connect with Soozey: Twitter (@SoozeyJ) | LinkedIn

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