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"You may not be the best person for the job but you ARE the right gender - congratulations, you're hired!"

What is a quota?


The number or percentage of persons of a specified kind permitted to enrol in a college, join a club, immigrate to a country, etc.

Wider definition

  • They are a form of Tokenism
  • They are a form of mindless box ticking that ignores individual circumstances


  • Race Quotas
  • Gender Quotas
  • Nationality quotas

Other attributes

Quotas are based on qualitative factors. Its about quantity and not quality.

What’s wrong with quotas?

  • 'Positive' discrimination is still discrimination.
  • Quotas are anti meritocracy(If you ignore merit you reward mediocrity)
  • Quotas are arbitrary
  • Compliance costs affect company and government spending
  • Quotas are offensive/insulting to hard working people
  • Quotas are anti competitive
  • Not everyone agrees that quotas are the answer
  • Just more red tape

Arguments for quotas

  1. Firms are not trying hard enough to get diversity in the workplace 
    Even when firms try hard they can still miss quotas - what is to be done with them then?
  2. We have to give people a fair chance and quotas make this happen. 
    What about those that are more qualified that miss out because of the quotas, where is the fairness for them.
  3. Group X have been allowed to dominate for too long
    Yes but the actual people in group X are no longer around the new people in group X should not be punished for it.

Quotas can have negative externalities

  • Stakeholders can lose out if a mediocre person ends up in a position they should not be in.
  • Arguing that because one evil exists (nepotism), another should be endorsed (gender discrimination) is a fallacy. Yes nepotism is bad, and will hopefully be eradicated at some point. But that doesn't justify discrimination.
  • Quotas can lead to resentment and disharmonious relationships.


The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.


Quotas mean equality is more important than success.

Quotas are futile

  • Quotas are ways of artificially creating the false image that everything is fine.
  • Quotas tend to benefit the beneficiary's only, not the whole group they represent
  • Quotas are justified by making things more equal, but make contenders from different groups 

Collateral damage

You can reason with a person making the wrong decision to advantage someone, but you can't reason with a quota. This makes quotas senseless.

Banning across borders

Quotas that a certain amount of board-members must be of xxx type will encourage those boards to be located overseas if it inconveniences them enough.


    • Organisations that demand quotas should make sure that they meet those quotas themselves.
    • Quotas contrevene the declaration of human rights


    The Olympics prove that people of different groups are different. Quotas will not change that.


    Quotas may dis-incentivise a large portion of stakeholders, making processes into lotteries.
    Quotas focus on equality of outcome, and not equality of opportunity.

    Feminist attitude to Quotas

    Producer level quotas

    Some companies have quotas if it suits thier needs.

    Consumer level quotas

    Consumers are free to buy products from companies that have the mix they wish.



    • Voluntary targets
    • Changing attitudes
    • Address underlying cause as to why outcomes are not expected
    • In the past, Jews, Irish, Catholics and Chinese were excluded from boards, management and higher education. They responded by starting their own companies and schools, and earned respect as a result. 

    What next

    • If there are to be quotas for the amount of women in boardrooms, are there to be corresponding quotas for men to be in :
      Primary teachers
    Or is it now becoming clear that quotas are not needed and not helpful in these industries?
    If this same quota was for white skinned males where they are the minority, would it be acceptable?

    • If a percentage of women are required on boards, then men can put their female partners on the boards. Job done.
    • A group of three have to add one of group X to their group to make a 25% quota.
    • If they can choose who you should hire, can they tell you who you can sack too?
    • I think the under 12s are under-represented on boards too. Who fights for the children?! Who defends their right to influence corporate policy?