Feeling ‘instinctively right’
How much of a guide is ‘gut feeling’ when it comes to strategy? Is it a useful indicator of what sorts of action will work; or should it be put aside for more overtly rational ways to decide what to do? The dismal proportion of women directors on FTSE-100 Boards is a case in hand. Research by Cranfield University shows that in 2009 just 12% of FTSE-100 directors were women…
… and of these, only 10% came from ethnic minority groups. But what can be done remains an open question.
Quotas may strengthen talent
As Lord Davies of the Department of Business and his predecessors all agree, this indicates a serious under-use of the skills and talents of women in the workforce, to the detriment of society and the economy as a whole..
There now seems therefore to be move towards the enforcement of quotas – with perhaps up to 40% of big company board directors being female – although it can hardly be said that the consensus is complete, whether in Europe, Australia or the USA .
Heart or head?
Board quotas are not however a new idea – they already operate in some countries such as Norway – but it is obviously a change of heart for Lord Davies, who is reported as saying previously that quotas did not ‘instinctively feel quite right’.
It is clearly to Lord Davies’ credit that, despite continued controversy, he is willing to agree a review his position in the light of advice and evidence; and it’s also interesting that he was comfortable with the notion of what ‘feels right’.
So, how do we in general move from ‘feelings’ such as this, to more evidence-based commentary and positions?
* What part in decision-making and choice should we give to ‘feelings’ and intuitions about ‘what’s right’?
* Does this apply differently to different issues – e.g. the separation of moral and ethical from more functional or rational issues. (Can these really be separated?)
* Can we ever really know for ourselves where the line between personal intuition and more hard-headed considerations is drawn?