About Campaign for Merit in Business, and the letter sent to David Cameron
Welcome to the blog of Campaign for Merit in Business, a campaign launched in April 2012. We’re campaigning against initiatives to ’improve’ gender diversity in the boardroom (‘GDITB’) because the evidence from independent researchers is that this ‘improvement’ will damage corporate performance:
. On this website we provide links to five studies showing that when more women are appointed onto corporate boards, financial performance declines. Our opponents have yet to cite even one study in support of their claim that when more women are appointed onto boards, corporate performance improves. All they have are some studies suggesting correlation – but as they know, correlation isn’t evidence of causation. A far more credible explanation for such correlations is that strongly-performing companies can better afford to indulge in social engineering initiatives such as GDITB.
The campaign has been attracting ever more publicity over time, recent highlights include:
- an interview with Martha Kearney on BBC Radio 4
- a lecture at the Institute of Economic Affairs
- an interview with Nick Ferrari on LBC
- two interviews on Voice of Russia
- an article published online by The Commentator
- mentions by Quentin Letts in his Daily Mail column
- an appearance on the BBC1 television programme Sunday Morning Live
- an appearance (20 November 2012) at a House of Commons inquiry into ‘Women in the Workplace’
- mention by Quentin Letts in his Daily Mail column of the plans to register a pro-male and anti-feminism political party
- an appearance (28 January 2013) on the BBC television show Daily Politics:
FTSE100 companies, driven by the government’s threats of quotas for women on boards if they don’t achieve 25% female representation by 2015 voluntarily – a creative use of the word ‘voluntarily’ - have reacted predictably. In 2010 only 13% of new FTSE100 director appointments were women. The latest figures show that over March – August 2012, 55% were women. Does anyone seriously believe that in 2012 there are more than four times the number of suitably qualified women as there were in 2010? In 2012 all the female appointments were non-executive directors, while all 18 new executive directors were men. Companies are clearly reacting to the quotas threat in the least risky way possible, by appointing female non-executive directors who’d previously have been considered to possess insufficient merit. The same approach was adopted by Norwegian publicly-listed companies with predictably damaging consequences (IEA piece).
This isn’t just a problem for the FTSE100. The threat will in time affect smaller companies, starting with the FTSE250. In addition, the 25% target is only ‘a major milestone in a longer journey’ (Davies report, 2011). Because the motivation behind GDITB is ideological, we can be sure the final destination won’t be less than 50%, whatever damage that will cause to UK plc, private sector employment levels, and the government’s corporation tax and income tax receipts. High prices to pay for a social engineering exercise…
For many years it’s been claimed (or inferred) by proponents of GDITB that there’s a strong business case for GDITB, most notably a positive (causal) link between GDITB and enhanced corporate performance. The business case argument has been used by the government to justify its threats of quotas. Campaign for Merit in Business has publicly challenged dozens of organisations (including the CBI, 30% club, EHRC, DBIS, Institute of Equality and Diversity Professionals, Professional Boards Forum, Equality Edge, Catalyst…) and hundreds of individuals (including David Cameron, Vince Cable, Theresa May, Lynne Featherstone…) to provide evidence of a positive causal link, and collectively they’ve supplied none.
Possibly as a result of our sustained challenging, some prominent proponents of GDITB have ceased claiming such a link exists, so we’re left with the stark conclusion that GDITB is nothing more than a social engineering exercise, driven by a Conservative-led coalition, and funded by taxpayers and the business sector. On this blog we’ve posted details of five academic studies showing that when more women are appointed to corporate boards, corporate performance declines.
The reasons for the ‘imbalances’ between the numbers of men and women in the senior reaches of organisations in general, and in the boardroom in particular, are well understood. They’re mostly attributable (as are phenomena such as the ‘gender pay gap’ and ‘job segregation’) to the different choices freely made by men and women with regard to the world of work and have nothing to do with discrimination against women. This subject has been explored at considerable length in numerous books including:
Swayne O’Pie’s Why Britain Hates Men: Exposing Feminism (2011), published in a Kindle edition and an international paperback edition with the title Exposing Feminism: The Thirty Years’ War Against Men (2012)
Steve Moxon’s The Woman Racket (2008), also available in a Kindle edition.
My own The Glass Ceiling Delusion: the REAL reasons more women don’t reach senior positions (2011)
If you’ve been following the blog on the website of the Institute of Economic Affairs, you’ll know that since our article was first posted – on April 24 2012 – it’s been seen by 5,000+ people interested in economic matters and not one person has provided any evidence in support of GDITB. Even I have been struck by the lack of engagement by the sizeable and influential pro-GDITB lobby.
On 29 April 2012 I posted on the IEA blog an open letter I’d mailed to the prime minister (link below), coinciding with the launch of Campaign for Merit in Business. On 30 May ’Adam’ – a ‘Correspondence Officer’ – wrote to me, stating:
I am writing to acknowledge your recent correspondence. The Prime Minister appreciates you taking the time to write. Your correspondence has been forwarded to the relevant Government department so they may reply to you, in detail, on the matters you raise.
I believe this is known in government circles as ‘kicking tricky questions into the long grass’. On 14 June I replied to ‘Adam’, asking for the name of the individual to whom my letter had been forwarded, and which ‘relevant Government department’ he/she works for. I’ll keep this blog updated with any response that transpires.
[Note added 20 July 2012: A letter from 10 Downing Street dated 11 July 2012 has been received, explaining that my letter was passed on to the Dept for Business, Innovation and Skills. No individual was named as having received it. The key minister at the DBIS is Comrade Vince Cable, who challenges Lord Davies of Abersoch as the most tireless male exponent of 'improved' gender diversity. Cable has failed to respond to our requests for evidence of the link he frequently claims between 'improved' gender diversity and corporate performance. He reached a new low with a truly preposterous article in the Evening Standard on 16 July, 2012. I shall shortly be writing an open letter to him about the article, and a recent startling admission to the House of Lords committee investigating 'Women on Boards'.]
The original letter to David Cameron: