How to use today's geographic quota to achieve gender parity

Today is the International Women’s Day, and what could be a better way of celebrating this day then launching two white-papers that serve to modernize the geographic quota calculation of the U.N. and of other multilateral and International organizations. Our innovative quota scheme reflects the current diversity objectives and promotes women's careers.

In late 2017 the U.N. Secretary-General launched the System Wide Strategy on Gender Parity. An ambitious strategy that aims at building a gender equal workforce at all levels at the U.N. 

The introduction of the System Wide Gender Parity introduces a new measurable Key Performance Indicator for the U.N. when it comes to diversity, not only the nationalities need to be evenly distributed, also the gender distribution must be equal at all levels and in all professional areas. 

Related to these new diversity objectives we have studied the current use of quota and we have produced two white papers:

  • describing the current quota scheme used today;

  • introducing challenges that could happen if organizations take shortcuts to achieve both the diversity and gender parity objectives at the same time.

We dedicate one whole second white paper to describe how a new quota scheme - Impactpool Quota Scheme (IQS) - could be successfully implemented.

White paper 1: The quota scheme at International organizations - When 5 Ants became more than 4 Elephants

In the first white-paper, we look closer into the potential conflict between gender objectives and geographic objectives. With the Gender Parity strategy, the U.N. has two tangible diversity objectives, that at a micro level may conflict.

In the first paper, we identify a potential division of the U.N. member states into two groups, one including countries that are empowering and promoting women career and one group that is not.

We then raise warning flags that there could be significant risks that organizations take an easy way out to achieve both objectives in one go. We fear that to achieve gender parity organizations will recruit women from countries with a tradition of promoting women career (as it is easier to find them there) and to achieve geographic diversity organizations will recruit men from countries not having a culture of promoting women career (as that is the only way to get the geographic numbers right).

As a result, an unhealthy internal culture may be created, that will impact both delivery and the long-term equality goal.

White paper 2: Step-by-step how to reform today's quota scheme to incentivise member states to promote women's career In the second white-paper, we focus on how the quota can be reformed to cater to both geography diversity and gender parity. We call our model the Impactpool Quota Scheme (IQS). Our scheme is not mitigating all criticism against quota, the fact that quota (in a literal interpretation) makes nationality/gender more worth than skills/competencies still remains.


  •  Our scheme resolves the criticism against the “flat calculation”, meaning that every staff member counts with the same value irrespective of being a Bureau Director (A.S.G.) or a Research Associate (P1). 

  •  Our scheme is cognizant to hierarchies and;

  •  Solves the challenges of combining gender objectives with geographical objectives.