Government quotas have no place in the boardroom

Prof Len Shackleton comments on Lord Davies' proposals

Responding to today’s proposals by Lord Davies to use quotas to increase the number of women in the boardroom, Professor Len Shackleton, a fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Proposals to force companies to increase the number of women on boards are extremely ill-advised. Quota setting is surely the way madness lies. Where can this stop? If women are underrepresented in boardrooms, so are many other groups “protected” under UK equality laws – ethnic and religious minorities, people with disabilities, the young, the old, the transgendered and so on.

“Businesses are not political entities. They should have an unambiguous focus on building value for shareholders and thus economic growth for us all – not equal time in the boardroom for each interest group’s hobby-horse.

“It should be left up to companies to decide the best commercial make up for their board. In Norway the government has interfered setting company quotas and this seems to have led to more board members being recruited from politics and the civil service. This is a pattern we could expect to see repeated in the UK. It has also led to firms delisting in order to avoid the legislation; this would be a likely unintended and counter-pro