Diversity, the very word often send shudders down the spine of conservatives when they hear the latest effort of liberals to foster more diversity in our culture, particularly in academia and corporate boardrooms. So it is with some amusement that I read that in Norway, the leftist government has proposed legislation that would close down any private company that doesn’t have a specified number of women on its board. The law will require that firms have 40% of their corporate boards comprised of women. New companies will have to comply immediately and existing companies will have until 2007 to come into compliance.
In France where riots have rocked the country, President Jacques Chirac said that companies needed to start reflecting ethnic diversity, but he fell short of endorsing quotas. I am sure that French companies were breathing a sigh of relief as they are already burdened by outdated employment laws that have led to economic stagnation and set the stage for the riots.
Closer to home, Great Britain has formed the Brighter Boards initiative. As a result civil service department heads have been threatened with losing part of their bonus if they don’t hire enough ethnic minorities.
This forced diversity or quota system does more harm than good as it doesn’t speak to qualifications or expertise which are critical elements in selecting board members. At this rate it won’t be long before the government actually selects board members for companies to ensure that they comply with the diversity laws. How about Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton on the News Corporation board?