From Mr Kenneth Armitage.

Sir, Reportedly (“PM eyes quotas for women on boards”, February 10), David Cameron is considering the notion of quotas for women in Britain’s boardrooms and insisting that the “case is overwhelming that companies are run better if we have men and women alongside each other” but that he would prefer “positive action” rather than full-scale “positive discrimination”.

We have been round this particular buoy on a number of occasions but it does not make sense to force organisations let alone commercial and private companies to recruit and select anyone to any position or responsibility for performance other than on knowledge, experience, ability and skills.

Affirmative action or positive discrimination is a confused system of selection or social engineering for employment or promotion based on a so-called policy of equity and depending on the percentage gender or ethnic mix of a society in an effort to achieve equality of access. Achieving a degree of equity is most difficult, often fraught, and progress can be achieved only by complete openness and integrity with candidates. It also raises the question: when does positive action or positive discrimination translate into racial or gender discrimination?

Setting targets and gathering statistics to determine who companies can or will recruit and how they intend to promote could be another bureaucratic nightmare.

Kenneth Armitage, Kesgrave, Suffolk, UK

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