I read a full-page article in yesterday’s Daily Mail with mounting disbelief. It was written by a young journalist, Ruth Sunderland, and it’s about the financial returns in 2013 of FTSE350 companies with female chief executives:
The article is the usual mix of celebrating women who are successes, whilst downplaying women who are failures. Of the four FTSE100 female CEOs, only one can be reasonably said to have delivered a strong performance in 2013 – Carolyn McCall of EasyJet. Let’s consider the three others:
Imperial Tobacco – shares down 8%.
Burberry – shares up 13%, very much in line with the FTSE100 average.
Royal Mail – shares up 78% but to quote Ms Sunderland, ‘The huge hike in the Royal Mail price owes far more to the fact that shares were woefully underpriced than to the acumen of Moya Greene.’
So, just one of the four female FTSE100 CEOs performed more strongly than the average male FTSE100 CEO in 2013. The article’s downplaying of female failure is breathtaking:
Cynthia Carroll left the top position at mining giant Anglo American earlier this year after disappointing investors and has been replaced by a man.
‘Disappointing investors’? They lost their shirts. In the course of Cynthia Carroll’s five-year tenure at Anglo American £9 BILLION was wiped off the company’s value. The following is a link to our piece on the matter, along with further information on the performances of other female CEOs:
Which brings us to Susan Vinnicombe of the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders. She’s long been the world’s leading academic advocate for more women on boards. In July 2012 she admitted to a House of Lords inquiry that she had no evidence of a causal link between increasing female representation on boards, and enhanced financial performance:
Her exact words:
Thirdly, there has been quite a push in the past – indeed, we ourselves have engaged in such research – to look at the relationship between having women on corporate boards and financial performance. We do not subscribe to this research. We have shared it with chairmen and they do not think that it makes sense. We agree that it does not make sense. You cannot correlate two or three women on a massive corporate board with a return on investment, return on equity, turnover or profits. We have dropped such research in the past five years and I am pleased to say that Catalyst, which claims to have done a ground-breaking study on this in the US, officially dropped this line of argument last September.
From the Daily Mail article:
Much as the feminist lobby might wish to claim a victory for woman-power, however, it is impossible to prove that female directors are likely to deliver better returns than men.
It is impossible to prove that, for one simple reason. The nearest we have to proof of the impact of increasing the proportion of female directors is five longitudinal studies, all of which show corporate financial decline resulting. Our short briefing paper with the studies’ full Abstracts:
Back to the article:
Professor Susan Vinnicombe of the Cranfield University School of Management, which compiles the annual Female FTSE Board Report, says: ‘It is very difficult to say that superior performance is due to a boss being a woman. But there is mounting research that suggests having women on the board is associated with stronger financial performance. This is not quite the same as saying women are the cause of the performance, but there is a strong correlation.’
We get so tired of this sort of tortured language:
‘… suggests having women on the board is associated with stronger financial performance’
‘This is not quite the same as saying women…’
IT’S NOT REMOTELY THE SAME. Most readers of the article will reasonably assume correlation is an indicator of causation, but all the reports and studies we’ve seen presenting correlations (McKinsey, Credit Suisse, Reuters Thomson, Catalyst…) say that not only is correlation not an indicator of causation, it shouldn’t be taken to even infer it.
It’s long overdue for us to publicly challenge Susan Vinnicombe. We’re making two challenges:
We challenge you to stop misleading people into believing correlations between increased female representation on boards and enhanced financial performance are, or may be, indicative of a beneficial gender effect, thereby justifying in some people’s minds (not ours) the government’s policy direction of pressuring companies to increase the number of women on their boards, through the threat of legislated gender quotas.
We challenge you to critique and discredit the five longitudinal studies which show that increasing female representation on corporate boards leads on average to corporate financial decline.
So why are there (on average) positive correlations between increasing female representation on boards, and enhanced financial performance? In our view it’s because strongly performing companies can better afford to indulge in some social engineering, and in some sectors where women make up the majority of customers (e.g. the retail sector) it’s also good PR. A gender analogy from outside the workplace – when rich men marry beautiful women, we don’t say the women caused the men to become rich, do we?
Our thanks to Greg for pointing us to this gem in the Independent:
What are they whining about? I thought that last year 98.7% of women were discriminated against in the workplace, and 45.2% of them experienced sexual harassment twice daily, after they’d made tea for their male colleagues? Things are clearly picking up for women in the workplace… it’s almost as if they LIKE whining!
The article, by Emily Dugan, might just get our vote for the most stupid newspaper article published this year relating to women in the workplace (and there’s lots of competition). Female journalists have a near-monopoly on reporting on this topic, and most of their articles are so absurd and divorced from reality they’re almost beyond parody. Almost. Let’s analyse the whole piece, which starts:
Almost a fifth of the women surveyed so far say that their careers have stalled because managers failed to promote them or offer training opportunities.
Let’s put that another way, shall we?
Over four fifths of the women surveyed so far say that their careers haven’t stalled because managers failed to promote them or offer training opportunities.
Hmm, that’s not quite so bad, is it? But of course it leaves aside the issue of women who haven’t been promoted because either:
There aren’t positions to be promoted to; or
They’re not well-qualified for promotion (never a problem for Entitlement Princesses)
The article continues:
The scale of workplace inequality still faced by millions of women has been laid bare by a survey that suggests more than half of female employees have experienced some form of discrimination at work.
The finding comes from the interim results of the most substantial survey ever conducted into the experiences of Britain’s female workforce. Project 28-40, undertaken by Opportunity Now, has already been completed by more than 25,000 women and aims to get to 100,000 before publishing its final results.
Hmm, I wonder what kind of woman would spend her valuable time completing such surveys? That’s right. The whiny kind. We hadn’t heard of ‘Opportunity Now’ before – it’s so difficult to keep up with the multitude of women’s whiny initiatives, and who in their right mind would try to? – but the strapline under the organisation’s logo is ‘Men – Women – Workplace’ which is obviously ironic given what their website says the organisation aims to do:
Opportunity Now is the campaign on gender diversity from Business in the Community. Opportunity Now aims to increase women’s success at work, because it’s not only good for business but good for society too.
Both ‘good for business’ and ‘good for society’ are plain wrong but I don’t need to explain why to regular visitors to this blog. Let’s look at the Leadership team, which has the sort of balance we’ve come to expect when women run things:
With a deep visceral groan, I note the chair of the Advisory Board is Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management. I do wish she’d spend more time at home with her nine children instead of working 24/7/365 in her bid to destroy the British business sector. She runs The 30% Club which aims to get major companies to increase female representation on their boards, regardless of the evidence showing financial decline will result. A third of FFTSE100 chairmen are members of the club. Why, those damnable patriarchs, keeping women down! The deputy chair of the Advisory Board is also a woman. Of the 16-strong Leadership team, 12 are women, including the Group HR Director of the Guardian Media Group, who looks more cheerful than you might expect of someone working for the Guardian. Back to the article:
Almost a fifth of the women surveyed so far say that their careers have stalled because managers failed to promote them or offer training opportunities. Just over one in 10 experienced sexual harassment. The insight follows the news that the gender pay gap is widening for the first time in five years, according to data from the Office for National Statistics released earlier this month.
There’s no evidence that any gender pay gap widening has anything to with firms paying women less than men for the same work (which I take to be the inference from this paragraph). Year after year it’s explained that the gap is fully accountable by differences in the professions men and women go into, levels of seniority, sizes of organisation, industry sectors, blah, blah, blah. I’m too tired to comment further on that matter. So, did the Independent go to a respected organisation to comment on the interim findings of the Opportunity Now report? No, they went to the Fawcett Society. Hmm, I wonder what those upbeat gals had to say?
Daisy Sands, policy and campaigns manager at the Fawcett Society, said: “Today’s findings present a stark reminder of the raft of deep inequalities that women continue to face in the UK labour market, well into the 21st century. Women continue to dominate in low-paid and undervalued work – two-thirds of those in minimum-wage jobs are women. Conversely, women are sorely lacking at the top tables of power – only 25 per cent of senior managers in the UK are women.”
Back to the article:
Some 81 per cent of women believe having children will affect their career progression…
No shit, Sherlock… sorry, Emily. Would men who took the same time out of the workplace have the same problem? Of course. Moving on:
… and more than two-thirds say society expects women to put their family before their job.
Hmm, no mention of Dr Catherine Hakim’s Preference Theory (2000). Her research showed that while four in seven British men are ‘work-centred’, just one in seven British women is. Let’s move on:
Susan Himmelweit, an economist for the Women’s Budget Group, which analyses how women fare in the workplace, said: “Whenever there are pressures on people, as there are now – such as high unemployment – employers are in a better position to put more pressure on staff. Women with caring responsibilities have more difficulty with this [pressure]. Very often they’ve juggled things just to work and it’s more difficult for them to respond to changes. If it is a competitive environment then employers will think it’s not worth bothering with them.”
Professor Himmelweit said she believed the key to improving the gender gap lies in better rights for those who work part-time or flexibly. “What we really need is flexible working that the worker doesn’t have to pay for in some form,” she said. “The legislation on flexible working needs to become tougher so that those who have to use it are not discriminated against.”
Cool. In the interests of gender equality, should men who want to work flexibly not be discriminated against, too? Back to the article.
The Project 28-40 study found that 48 per cent of women had witnessed bullying or unfair treatment of a female colleague, but just 28 per cent said they had seen male colleagues suffer such abuse.
I’m losing the will to live now. We move onto some comments from a notorious gender feminist:
The TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The battle for equality in the workplace is far from over. The gender pay gap got worse this year for the first time in many years, and spending cuts have hit women hard as many work in the public sector.”
Whoa, hold the horses. Two-thirds of public sector workers are women. Should the spending cuts have hit women less hard than men, so the proportion of women in the sector would increase? We can’t see any flaws in that argument. The genius continues:
“What really sets back women at work is becoming a mother. Career breaks, a period working part-time or simply the need to work sensible hours hold women back and limit job opportunities and promotion.”
‘What really sets back women at work is becoming a mother.’ Well, don’t become a mother, then.
J has pointed us to another story for the ‘You couldn’t make this s*** up!’ file. We’re constantly being told we ‘need’ more women at the top of business. Exactly why we ‘need’ them there, when longitudinal studies show that increasing the representation of women on corporate boards leads to financial decline, is a mystery. But at least high-flying women are as rational as high-flying men, right? Oops.
From the article:
The recommended psychic, Susan Kennard, was not cheap — sessions cost £100 an hour.
‘But I’d been feeling so awful, I didn’t see how it could make it any worse,’ says Catherine.
‘My friend is incredibly down to earth — she works with computers and you wouldn’t expect her to be into this type of thing. But she kept saying how fantastic Susan was.’
The experience was transformative.
‘It was quite incredible,’ says Catherine, who lives with her husband Bernard, 51, and is a partner in their architect firm. ‘It was as if she knew me, without me even having to open my mouth.’
Susan is a qualified psychotherapist who uses her psychic gift to enhance her understanding of her clients, their pasts and the things that are troubling them.
‘Within two sessions, the negative feelings had disappeared,’ says Catherine. ‘I can only describe it as a feeling of lightness. The issues don’t go away, of course, but I felt empowered to handle them.’
You might think professional psychics have had their day — but they’re back, and they’ve had something of a makeover. Rebranded as ‘intuitive therapists’, they are increasingly sought-after by high-flyers for advice on everything from fertility problems to choice of partners and even business decisions.
Let’s pause to relish that last sentence. High-flying women are using the services of psychics to help them make business decisions. What could possibly go wrong?
From later in the article:
Susan says her psychic ability allows her to tune in to her clients’ feelings; she also has visions of their futures, although she’s cautious about sharing them.
‘I think telling people their future takes their power to act away, but I might gently steer someone according to what I see, saying for example: “I feel it might be helpful for you to think about this”.’
Hmm… ‘visions of the future’. I wonder if Susan can tell me which horse is going to win the 2:30 at Doncaster? That would be worth £100…
Yet more lunacy, part of a scheme costing the taxpayer £25 million:
From the article:
“Only around a quarter of students on engineering master’s courses are women,” said Brunel engineering lecturer, Petra Gratton. “Bluntly speaking, that has to change if UK engineering is going to continue to compete as successfully as it currently does… While some may see this as positive discrimination the stark reality is that UK plc can no longer afford not to exploit fully this enormous potential talent pool.”
Some may see this as positive discrimination? Who wouldn’t? Four out of seven unemployed people in the UK are men, unemployment is a major driver of suicide among men (more so than among women), three times more men than women in the UK commit suicide every year… and here we have one of the few remaining male-dominated professions discriminating against men. It’s time to join up the dots. In this and many other ways, the state is leading men to kill themselves in large numbers, although men collectively pay 72% of the income tax which largely finances the state.
It’s not just the state that’s relentlessly pursuing this direction of travel. Professional bodies in engineering and other male-dominated professions are discriminating again men, although men surely represent the majority of their existing membership. Our public challenge of Nick Baveystock, the director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers, remains unanswered to this day:
We now know a good deal about the impact of increasing female representation on corporate boards. Longitudinal studies (the only ones of any relevance, as they separate causation from correlation) of companies in the United States, Germany and Norway show it leads to corporate financial decline. Our briefing paper on the matter has the Abstracts and URLs of five such studies:
Across the developed world major corporations are increasing female representation on their boards and senior executive levels, sometimes under government pressure, sometimes not. For anyone with an interest in this subject we suggest spending some time on the website of our associated initiative, Campaign for Merit in Business http://c4mb.wordpress.com.
We’re indebted to M, a supporter who lives in Eastern Europe, for pointing us to some intriguing pieces. He’s just come up with a new one, a real gem, relating to Qantas. From Wikipedia’s entry on the company:
Qantas Airways Limited is the flag carrier of Australia. The name was originally ‘QANTAS’, an acronym for ‘Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services’. Nicknamed ‘The Flying Kangaroo’, Qantas is Australia’s largest airline, the oldest continuously operated airline in the world, and the second oldest in the world overall… Qantas carries a 65% share of the Australian domestic market and carries 18.7% of all passengers travelling in and out of Australia.
Qantas has been going through turbulent times (pun intended). With fairly stable revenues and passenger numbers, it moved from an A$249 million profit after tax in 2010/11, to losses of A$244 million in 2011/12, and a derisory profit of just A$6 million in 2012/13. Also from Wikipedia:
In August 2011 the company announced that, due to financial losses and a decline in market share, major structural changes would be made. Up to 1,000 jobs would be lost in Australia…
The last thing Qantas would need in such difficult times would be time-consuming and distracting initiatives to drive up female representation on its board and senior executive levels. Under government pressure, however, that’s exactly what it’s faced for years, since at least 1999. Our thanks to M for pointing us to a 24-page document which will be depressing reading for any normal intelligent person – gender feminists, by contrast, will love it – Qantas’s 2011/12 report to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA):
To protect your sanity we’ve extracted from the document just a little of the content, from p.3:
The Qantas Group is covered by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Commonwealth) and to comply with the Act is required to:
- Develop an equal opportunity for women in the workplace program
- Report annually (by 31 May) to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) on the program and its effectiveness.
The report is being submitted on behalf of the Qantas Group and covers our workplace program gender diversity activities during the reporting period 1 April 2011 – 31 March 2012.
Diversity Highlights for 2011/2012
- The Qantas Board of Directors appointed one additional woman, increasing female representation to 25%, up by 8% since the last reporting period.
- Qantas has 57% female representation on the Qantas Foundation Board, as 4 of the 7 Directors are women.
- 2 of the 10 Directors of the Qantas Superannuation Board, including the Chairman are women, representing 20% of the Board.
- During the reporting period, the number of women employed on the Qantas Executive Committee (ExCo), reporting directly to the CEO increased to 3 or 27%. This is a significant increase from having zero representation 3 years ago in 2009.
- Qantas’ Company Secretary is female.
- The number of women in Senior Management roles (levels 2-4 in Table A) increased by 2% to 29% during the reporting period.
<End of extract. We apologise for inflicting that on you.>
So what’s been the consequence of the relentless march of women into senior roles at Qantas, both before and during the period in which the company has faced severe financial difficulties? Well, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) have just cut Qantas’s credit rating to ‘junk’ (link below). Oops.
In an effort to pour salt into Qantas’s wounds, Australia’s government is refusing to bail out the company, despite having assaulted it with gender diversity initiatives since at least 1999. We expect this matter will be resolved by an Asian company – probably a Chinese one – taking over Qantas, and immediately cancelling all such stupid initiatives. We assume that Australian feminists, and the politicians who’ve pandered to them for so long, are proud of having brought a once-great company to its knees.
As time goes on, across the developed world, we’ll see ever more examples of major companies being destroyed by gender diversity initiatives, and the Chinese in particular buying the assets at rock-bottom prices.
Our thanks to a supporter in Eastern Europe for alerting us to this. During negotiations to form a coalition government German politicians – mostly female ones, it would seem – have agreed to assault the country’s business sector through introducing gender quotas for corporate boards, in order to advance the careers of women unable to get appointed to those boards on the basis of their merits. How proud these women will be to reach corporate boards on the basis of owning the ‘correct’ genitals.
My thanks to J for pointing me to a piece (by a female journalist, needless to say) in the Guardian:
Stuart Gulliver, 54, Group Chief Executive of HSBC, calls his industry ‘male, pale and stale’, managing to fit into just four words sexism, racism, and ageism. The four women on his bank’s board – out of a total of 17 directors – are all non-executives. Does that alone not tell this man anything?
So, what is known about the impact of increasing women on banking boards? In our briefing paper on the impact of increasing female representation on boards http://c4mb.wordpress.com/improving-gender-diversity-on-boards-leads-to-a-decline-in-corporate-performance-the-evidence/ we have links to the reports from five longitudinal studies. All five studies showed that increasing female representation on boards leads to corporate financial decline. One should be of particular interest to Stuart Gulliver, maybe he could read the report when he’s next on his travels. It’s a study of German banks over a period of 16 years:
Executive board composition and bank risk taking (2012) (Deutsche Bundesbank Discussion Paper, 03/2012)
Professor Allen N. Berger (University of South Carolina, Wharton Financial Institutions Center and Tilburg University), Thomas Kick (Deutsche Bundesbank), Professor Klaus Schaeck (Bangor University).
The researchers studied German banks over 1994-2010. The paper’s full Abstract:
Little is known about how socio-economic characteristics of executive teams affect corporate governance in banking. Exploiting a unique dataset, we show how age, gender, and education composition of executive teams affect risk taking of financial institutions. First, we establish that age, gender, and education jointly affect the variability of bank performance. Second, we use difference-in-difference estimations that focus exclusively on mandatory executive retirements and find that younger executive teams increase risk taking, as do board changes that result in a higher proportion of female executives [my emphasis]. In contrast, if board changes increase the representation of executives holding Ph.D. degrees, risk taking declines.
It never ceases to amaze us how many women (and all feminists) shamelessly present narratives which are plainly contradictory. The contradictions can only be ‘resolved’ through the invention of conspiracy theories, fantasies, lies, delusions and myths e.g. the ‘glass ceiling’, the ‘glass cliff’, the ‘glass coffee table’… we may have made one of those up. These are two such narratives (selected from a large number):
Women are as strong, intelligent, capable, and hard-working as men!
Women need supportive legislation and relentless taxpayer-funded initiatives to drive them into senior positions, and into professions they’ve historically avoided!
For many years social engineering initiatives – largely taxpayer-funded – have been operating (with minimal mainstream media interest and exposure) to advantage women and disadvantage men with respect to recruitment and promotion in the workplace. ‘Athena SWAN’ is a key initiative with regards to research in STEMM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine). We thank Dr John Barry for providing us with information on this matter:
My warm thanks to the six supporters and donors who came out on a chilly evening last Tuesday to attend Dr Jude Browne’s talk on quotas for corporate boards at Cambridge University. It was predictably dreary stuff, and I didn’t detect so much as one sentence suggesting that differences in gender outcomes might be (even in part) the result of gender-typical choices. Her ‘solution’ to the gender ‘problem’ on boards was to have major companies monitor gender balance at every level, and where there was an apparent failure of one gender to advance, the company would be required to justify it. She specifically mentioned the layer beneath the corporate board. If implemented it would be at considerable cost to companies, but on the bright side it would doubtless provide employment for thousands of professional feminists.
The Q&A session lasted only 15 minutes but I managed to introduce myself to the audience (about 200 people, I’d say), said a few words about J4MB and C4MB, and made the point that I could scarcely believe a talk could be given on the topic in question without mentioning Catherine Hakim’s Preference Theory.
I then asked Dr Browne the question we sent her in an email almost two weeks ago. Her lips pursed at this point, I’m pleased to report. We’d sent her the evidence showing that increased female representation on boards leads to corporate performance decline, then posed this question:
If the evidence shows that increasing female representation on boards leads to corporate financial decline, would that be a price worth paying?
She may be a political theorist but her reply was worthy of the most evasive politician. She spoke for two or three minutes, and still didn’t answer the question. I put my hand up to ask it again but wasn’t given the opportunity by the (male) Pro Vice Chancellor who was chairing the meeting.
Afterwards we managed to hand out about 100 flyers:
A substantial number of women (and a few men) who looked like they’d been sucking on lemon slices refused to accept the document.
The following should be self-explanatory, and I hope to meet with you in Cambridge on the evening of 29 October.