Cherie Booth at Hay Festival: Introduce quotas to promote women in business

 

Quotas should be introduced in Britain to make sure average women succeed in the workplace as often as mediocre men, Cherie Booth QC said this weekend.

The leading barrister and wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair argued in an appearance at the Hay Festival that “less exceptional women” are hampered in business more than their male equivalents.

Ms Booth said it was essential to “accelerate” the careers of women and redress the gender imbalance in the workplace.

“We call it positive action because discrimination has a negative connotation,” she said. “I think that’s always a dangerous thing, the suggestion that people are not worthy. I am in favour of quotas. I think if we wait for it to happen naturally, I think it’s going to take a long time.”

She said that “particularly in politics” it would take a long time to make things equal unless action was taken. She added: “One of the things I was proudest about is Tony introducing all-women shortlists for the Labour Party.

“There were more than 100 women who did the job absolutely as well as the men. If a few women didn’t do the job quite as well, believe me there are a lot of men who didn’t either. I think the problem is, exceptional women will always succeed. But there are plenty of less exceptional men who succeed.

“Until we get the less exceptional women succeeding equally, we do not have full equality. We have to do something to accelerate that.”

A supportive husband is also an important factor in the success of a woman in the workplace, Ms Booth said. She was speaking at the literary festival alongside Hilary Heilbron, a barrister who has written a biography of her mother, Rose Heilbron, England’s first female judge.

Dame Rose was born in Liverpool, and Ms Booth joked that the two of them had shown there was “something about women from the North West” that helped them succeed.

“The number of them [High Court judges] who were what my husband might call 'bolshy scousers’ is quite incredible,” she said. “They never give up and they never lie down and die.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935