The conversation we should be having about Florida’s Supreme Court
Quotas are a terrible way to promote board diversity. Companies should do this instead – CNN Money - Carly Fiorina and Joel Peterson
Excerpt: The just-concluded 2018 elections have been referred to as a new "year of the woman," as nearly 25% of all members of the next Congress will be female. That puts Congress one point ahead of S&P 500 boardrooms, where 24% of all corporate directors are women.
Neither number is impressive — and the pace of change remains glacially slow. The new Congress's number of female members will have grown by just about 5% and boardrooms have grown their proportion of women directors by an average of 1.2% per year over the past five years.
California's state legislature (female membership: also 24%) recently set quotas for female members on the boards of publicly traded companies headquartered in the state — hypocritically requiring the private sector to do better than the public sector has. That's not the answer.
Viewed through the prism of our own experience as corporate directors, we think it's high time for boards to become more diverse. Not because a law requires it, but because a variety of backgrounds, experiences and skill sets leads to stronger, more rigorous, and significantly more effective corporate governance. And more effective governance means better performance for all stakeholders.
Bottom Line: In January, Florida will have three vacancies that Governor-elect Ron DeSantis will have to fill. It’ll be his first major task as Governor and it's ironically the one that might have the biggest impact on our state regardless of how long he serves as our Governor. Recently, I’ve discussed the arguments being made by those who are upset that the nominees advanced by the Florida commission don’t include a black nominee.
Of the 59 candidates considered, six were black. None of the six were recommended for final consideration by the commission. To date, I’ve not heard one specific argument made regarding one specific candidate's merit. Yet, there’s been a rush to judgment by virtue of there simply not being a black nominee among those considered. Ironically enough this discussion of women in corporate America is a different version of the exact same thing and Carly Fiorina nailed it. Quotas for the sake of quotas is a terrible way to promote diversity.
The United States of America became the world's largest super-power inside of 150 years because we generally had a government that got out of the way of Americans and let them do what they were capable of doing with limited restrictions. The exact opposite of quotas. As I’m quick to remind people, MLK Jr’s dream was to look at the content of character rather than the color of skin. That’s also true of gender as well. You don’t achieve greatness by promoting inferior candidates simply to be politically correct. Conversely, I’d love to compete against someone who runs a business that way.
Diversity is great and there is evidenced benefit when those who are qualified and of differing backgrounds are provided with the opportunities. Failure is achieved when someone whose less qualified is promoted over someone with a stronger skill set. Failure doesn’t care if you’re black or white. Male or Female. In the case of the Florida Supreme Court, the last thing our state needs is a strategy employed in the name of political correctness, that’d fail if attempted in business.
The key to Florida’s incredible success and progress over the past eight years is that it was a government that was incrementally shaped to run more like a successful business. If we continue to reshape our state’s government that way imagine how successful we’ll become. If instead, we were to run our state like New York or California, we can already see what we’ll become. Quotas and diversity for the sake of diversity won’t create greatness. Having the best possible people in the right places will. Our hope and expectation should be that all races and genders are well represented.
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