Should small businesses be required to have 40% female staff to land government contracts?

The issue of gender quotas for Australian businesses has again hit the headlines with a suggestion from the Human Rights Commission that the federal government use its procurement processes to become a “model industry” when it comes to improving representations of women in the workforce.

The HRC has proposed a model which would encourage organisations to reach a 40:40:20 gender balance comprised of 40% men, 40% women and 20% unspecified, to allow for flexibility.

Given women do, and have done since time immemorial, comprise half the population and yet still hold a minor proportion of board seats, is this such an outrageous proposition?

According to Abbott, yes. He suggested the federal sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins ought to “pull her head in”. (I mean, seriously, what exactly does Jenkins think she is doing mooting suggestions to minimise ‘sex discrimination’?)

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