I am against hiring people because there is a law that tells me I have to, whether it is because of race, gender, age or hair colour. In an ideal situation, I would like to review a CV without any of this information included, that should be the law – it is the only way in which you would be guaranteed to short list the best person to perform the job function you require without any concern for discrimination.
I work closely with a number of strong women at all levels of my organisation (and I have another three at home in my wife and two daughters!). These are all qualified, independent, motivated, driven people who would have my head on a platter if they believed for a second that they were hired to fill a quota of female employees.
I am sure that in certain industries an argument for discrimination based on gender may be made, but I would argue that in professional fields it should be irrelevant. Anyone who has successfully qualified in accounting or law or medicine or computer science received the same training and must deal with the same business environment. Results are clear cut and easy to determine, so what has gender got to do with it?
In today’s world, work-life balance is an issue we all deal with, and respecting that both men and women have families is good for everyone. Men are often as involved as women in their children’s lives and are as likely to take time off to look after sick kids or attend ballet recitals or even take paternity leave, so that should no longer be relevant to employment decisions.
All the women I know can be every bit as practical, objective and cut-throat as men; perhaps, in some cases, accentuated by years of being treated as if they weren’t. I have also found their ability to empathise and find alternative solutions for issues more often than not make them better able to deal with business situations and conflict.
But even these statements are making the assumption that women are more empathic than men or acknowledging the stereotype that a woman is seen as more likely to be emotional than a man, which aren’t necessarily true. Stereotypes may have been stereotypes for a reason once upon a time, but now they are largely irrelevant where gender roles in business are concerned.
In the end, I believe hiring someone because of their gender is discrimination, whatever that gender might be. And I feel that forcing a business to create their hiring policy based on discrimination of any kind should be beyond the purview of legislature.