[Updated 28 February 2013]
The Electoral Commission has just registered our political party, Justice for men & boys (and the women who love them). More on this later in this post.
Campaign for Merit in Business, which was launched early in 2012, has made a remarkable impact in a relatively short time. We’ve proven beyond all reasonable doubt that the ‘glass ceiling’ is a baseless conspiracy theory. Through exposing as fantasies, lies, delusions and myths, the arguments which said that increasing gender diversity in the boardroom (‘GDITB’) will improve corporate financial performance, we’ve destroyed the long-vaunted ‘business case’ for GDITB. We continue to publicise five longitudinal studies, all of which show that GDITB leads to declines in corporate financial performance. What else would we expect when businesses aren’t free to select the best people for their boards, regardless of gender? Proponents are left with little other than misrepresenting correlation as causation in pursuit of their social engineering programmes.
The Conservative-led coalition no longer challenges our assertion that the impact of GDITB on UK plc will inevitably be a negative one. And yet it continues to actively pursue GDITB. DBIS continues to refuse to have a minister meet with us. What might explain this extraordinary state of affairs? We believe there are a number of strands in the answer:
1. David Cameron has an exaggerated fear of the ‘women’s vote’. He showed his feminist-friendly credentials soon after coming to power in 2010 by appointing the Labour peer Lord Davies of Abersoch to report not on whether to give effect to GDITB, but on how to do so. Indeed he showed those credentials in the autumn of 2009, when he announced he was setting up some all-women prospective parliamentary candidate (‘PPC’) shortlists. I’d once worked for the party at their London HQ (2006-8) but resigned my party membership in the autumn of 2009 when David Cameron announced his willingness to introduce all-women PPC shortlists for the forthcoming general election. I was later informed, by a senior officer in the party, that I was far from alone in having done so.
2. The leading minister at DBIS, the Lib Dem MP Vince Cable, holds extreme left-wing views, and is on record as saying that if he were Prime Minister, 50% of his cabinet would be women. He has publicly used – in his speeches and writings – utterly discredited research ‘evidence’ in support of GDITB.
3. The CBI, which should be defending its members’ rights to appoint directors as they see fit, is a part of the problem. For some years it’s actively promoted GDITB. Its current President, Sir Roger Carr (chairman of Centrica) is on record as stating that while he doesn’t personally believe GDITB improves corporate financial performance, he thinks it improves meeting ‘atmospherics’.
4. GDITB is being pursued vigorously because FTSE100 companies are under threat of legislated quotas (Davies Report – 2011) if they don’t ‘voluntarily’ achieve 25% female representation on their boards by 2015. This has resulted in a more than fourfold increase in FTSE100 female director appointments, from 12% of new appointments before the quotas threat (2010) to 55% (2012). Virtually all of the new female appointments have been as NEDs, an indicator of how shallow the available pool of qualified women is compared with the available pool of qualified men.
5. For some years government inquiries into such matters, while seeming to be open, have been deeply flawed. The most obvious recent example was the 2012 House of Lords inquiry into ‘Women on Boards’ which heard only from witnesses in support of GDITB. Many were professionally involved in the initiative. The level of witness challenging by the peers, including the Conservatives, was embarrassing to watch. In our written evidence to the inquiry we included details of four longitudinal studies which show that GDITB harms corporate performance. The final inquiry report explicitly rejected the idea that GDITB can lead to declines in corporate performance, without explaining why. We wrote to the inquiry’s chairwoman, Conservative peer Baroness O’Cathain, asking for an explanation, and didn’t receive one.
6. The House of Commons inquiry into ‘Women in the Workplace’, to which we gave oral evidence, is still ongoing, and we’re hopeful of more attention being given to our evidence than was the case with the House of Lords inquiry. But virtually all the witnesses before this inquiry, as with the House of Lords inquiry, have been pro-GDITB. We’ve made formal complaints about the misleading testimonies of a number of ‘witnesses’, one of whom amended her evidence as a result.
[New entry, 22 July 2013: The report of a House of Commons inquiry – ‘Women in the Workplace’ – was outrageous in its curt dismissal of our evidence base and arguments, and those of the renowned sociologist Catherine Hakim. The committee blindly accepted feminist arguments in relation to the genders in the workplace, while traditional Conservative perspectives on issues such as meritocracy were nowhere to be seen. Our critique of the report is here.]
The area of GDITB is but one of many areas in which governments actively discriminate for women and against men, because they’re fearful of the potential impact of ‘women’s votes’. Let’s consider just one example of that discrimination. Two-thirds of public sector workers are women, and the Equality Act (2010) effectively enables public sector bodies to discriminate on the grounds of gender in terms of recruitment and promotion, where one gender is ‘under-represented’. In practise only women in the sector are using the legislation, and only to advance women. Positive discrimination on gender grounds is illegal, so the government terms the phenomenon ‘positive action’. It amounts to exactly the same thing in practice.
Men have signally failed to co-operate effectively to defend ‘men’s human rights’ over many years, but this is changing. Politicians of all parties have left us with no choice. We’ve taken the only logical step. We’ve formed a political party to challenge the government in numerous policy areas – including GDITB – where there’s relentless special treatment for women at the expense of men. I shall lead the party.
On 30 December the leading broadcaster and Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts exclusively revealed our intention to launch the party.
If you believe in this cause, then please support us by making a donation or possibly by making a contribution in other ways. A qualified accountant has taken care of finances both before and since the party’s establishment. 100% of donations will be used to finance our campaigning work. Nobody associated with this campaign or our party derives any personal income from donations. Thank you for your interest in our work.
It has long been known – from longitudinal studies – that there exists a causal link between increasing the proportion of women on corporate boards, and financial decline. In 2012 we published a briefing paper with links to five longitudinal studies, all demonstrating the causal link.
To the best of my knowledge, there exists no evidence (from longitudinal studies) of a causal link between increasing gender diversity on boards, and enhanced financial performance. C4MB has challenged many individuals and organizations to provide evidence of the causal link they imply – the list of those challenges is here – and no evidence has ever been forthcoming. In plain English:
There is no business case for increasing the proportion of women on boards.
Lord Davies of Abersoch, a Labour peer, was appointed by David Cameron soon after the Conservative / Lib Dem coalition came to power in May 2010. He was charged with making recommendations on how to increase the proportion of women on major corporate boards, and the report following his review – Women on boards – was published in February 2011.
To get a sense of the ideological driver behind the report, we need only look at the Executive Summary on p.3, where the following claim is made:
…gender-diverse boards have a positive impact on performance.(2)
Reference (2) is at the bottom of the same page, but no material is cited. It was clearly taken as a ‘given’ that the statement was true, yet no evidence could be found to substantiate it. In general in this report, as in almost all reports arguing for more women on boards, correlation (between gender diversity on boards, and enhanced financial performance) is presented as evidence of causation, when it doesn’t even imply it.
One recommendation in the Davies report – accepted by the government – was that if FTSE100 companies hadn’t ‘voluntarily’ increased the proportion of female directors on their boards (12.5% in 2011) to 25% by 2015, the government should consider introducing legislated gender quotas, forcing them to do so. The FTSE100 capitulated to this threat without a murmur, and now 26.1% of FTSE100 directors are women. 260 of the current 286 female FTSE100 directors – 91% – are non-executive directors.
The government has just published the final report of the Davies Review, ‘Improving the gender balance of British boards’ – here. With the departure of Lord Davies, a new steering group has yet to be set. The Evening Standard reported the following two days ago:
Cabinet Minister Nicky Morgan today backed a new target to boost the number of women in top company boardrooms after a report revealed slow progress in promoting them into key decision-making jobs.
The equalities minister told the Standard that success increasing the overall number of female directors on FTSE100 boards proved setting voluntary targets ‘concentrates minds’. [No, you silly woman, threatening legislated gender quotas ‘concentrates minds’.]
But with new data showing the vast majority of the female directors are non-executives, Ms Morgan added the focus was now on getting women into powerful executive roles now dominated by men.
She also said ministers would set up a new steering group to continue the equality drive and that ‘kick-ass’ Apprentice star Karren Brady was in a strong position to lead it.
The final Davies report is 60 pages long, and I won’t trouble you with a detailed analysis. It is significant that nowhere in the report is there a claim that increasing female representation on boards leads to enhanced corporate financial performance.
We can be very sure that C4MB has had an influence on the narratives employed in this ideologically-driven report, because we’ve challenged politicians, civil servants, and others over the past four years. In 2012, on behalf of C4MB, I gave evidence to House of Commons and House of Lords inquiries, the video of my House of Commons appearance is here.
On p.7 of the final Davies Review report:
Businesses needs (sic) to continue efforts to increase women’s representation further and more women should now be progressing to Chair and Senior Independent Director appointments, with increasing numbers of women appointed to Executive Director positions.
Exactly why businesses ‘need’ to do that is unclear. The evidence from longitudinal studies clearly proves businesses need to NOT do that. From the recommendations on p.7:
Increased Target, More Chairs and Action from All Listed Companies
Increasing the voluntary target for women’s representation on Boards of FTSE 350 companies, to a minimum of 33% to be achieved in the next five years.
All stakeholders to work together to ensure increasing numbers of women are appointed to the roles of Chair, Senior Independent Director and into Executive Director positions on Boards of FTSE 350 companies.
All FTSE Listed companies now assess the gender balance on their Boards and take prompt action to address any shortfall.
In 2011, 9.5% of FTSE350 board directors were women, today the figure is 21.9%. The demand is for 33% by 2020, and it won’t stop there, we can be very sure. A government adviser is on record as saying that the longer-term target is gender parity on FTSE350 boards. From p.9, a ludicrous pretence that there exists a business case for appointing more women to boards:
Compelling Business Case versus Equalities issue
From the very beginning we addressed the lack of gender diversity on British Boards as a key business issue, at a time when it was still being narrowly boxed by many as an equalities, diversity or women’s issue.
We worked up the business case for change and spoke language business understands. The value-add of diverse perspectives, the economic arguments on talent management and the modernising of British business. We spoke of global credibility, impact to reputation, the longer-term stability of our economy and the UK’s competitive position on the global stage.
The business case is even stronger today as Chairs report on the positive impact women are having at the top table, the changing nature of the discussion, level of challenge and improved all round performance of the Board.
The UK is a leader and role model on the international stage for having made such good progress under an entirely voluntary regime.
The claim of an ‘entirely voluntary regime’ is ridiculous, for reasons I’ve already stated. On p.18:
We anticipated that increasing the number of women Executive Directors would be the longer term challenge, as these are the highest ranking and often highest paid roles in any FTSE company. [my emphasis]
However, going forward we should expect to see more women move into senior most ranks as we are now five years into the journey.
The text I have emphasised perfectly illustrates the mindset of the people behind this report. They cannot admit publicly that the ‘longer term challenge’ results from very few women being well-qualified for FTSE100 executive directorships – compared with the number of well-qualified men – so they have to draw on a conspiracy theory, the ‘glass ceiling’, to explain it. They’re saying men are declining to give women executive directorships as these would confer high rank and high pay.
Appendices B-D (pp. 35-56) consist of ‘Performance Rankings’ for FTSE100, FTSE250, and FTSE350 companies. What ‘performance’ is being ranked, you might reasonably ask? Financial performance? No. Simply the proportion of women on corporate boards, the only performance that matters to the authors of this report.
Appendix F (p. 58,59) is on ‘Key Research and Further Reading’. It contains no references to the studies which show conclusively that driving up female representation on boards leads to financial decline.
And so it is that we say goodbye to Lord Davies of Abersoch, hopefully forever. But not before we post again a link to an award presented to him by the Anti-Feminism League in March 2012, shortly before C4MB was launched. Enjoy.
Our thanks to Mike for this. From the article, a reference to correlation, leaving the reader to erroneously imply causation, although it’s been known for years that the only causal link between higher female representation on corporate boards and financial performance is a negative one:
Lord Davies rejected suggestions that companies were ‘padding’ boards with female non-executives for public relations purposes, insisting the women appointees were qualified for their posts.
‘It’s about business results,’ he said. ‘The more diverse the group is at the top of the company, the better the results.’
Our thank to Martin for pointing us to this. The start of the article in the Brisbane Times:
Men may have to move aside from high-profile roles in business and government to make way for women to move in, according to the chairman of Transfield, Diane Smith-Gander.
A bill proposed by a group of Senate crossbenchers would make it compulsory for federal government boards to be at least 40 per cent female.
Ms Smith-Gander, who is also president of the Chief Executive Women group, said to reach that target, and an eventual bigger target of 50-50 representation of women on business boards and in senior roles, capable men would have to make way for capable women.
“When it comes to senior jobs and political appointments I think 50-50 representation is where we’re heading,” she said at an Australian Institute of Company Directors lunch in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Helena Morrissey, who chairs the UK’s fund association, would like a woman to fill the vacant post at the head of the embattled trade group and will speak to “one or two women” about the role.
When Ms Morrissey took over as chairwoman of the IA (Investment Association) last summer, its board was made up of just one woman and 14 men. She told FTfm at the time: “It is clear we need more women.” There are now five women on the board, including Ms Morrissey.
Ms Morrissey is the Chief Executive of Newton Investment Management, a £50+ billion fund management company. In 2010 she launched the 30% club, members of which – mostly men, FTSE100 chairmen and the like – commit themselves to greater board gender diversity. We have presented Ms Morrissey with evidence of a causal link between increased gender diversity on boards and corporate financial decline, and – needless to say – they have made no difference to her relentless campaigning. A public challenge sent to her in November 2012 remains unanswered to this day.
The capitulation of the business sector – and businessmen in particular – to these social engineering agendas is a matter of shame. It’s known that the government’s longer-term target is gender parity on FTSE350 boards. On the basis that one in three private sector employees are women, four in seven British men are work-centred but only one in seven British women is (Dr Catherine Hakim’s Preference Theory), and men still dominate the upper reaches of the Finance profession, we would expect fewer than 5% of major corporate board directors to be women. In the FTSE100 the figure has just reached 25% – the proportion has more than doubled since 2011, in response to the government’s threats of legislated gender quotas. The 50% target on FTSE350 boards will require a tenfold preferencing of women over men to be achieved. There are no indications of opposition from the business community to this direction of travel.
This is the first time we’ve presented this award to a senior civil servant. Ms Beckett’s award certificate, with details on why she’s won the award, is here.
Over the past four years I’ve read many reports purporting to show (or implying) a causal link between increased female representation on boards, and enhanced financial performance. All the widely-cited ones of which I’m aware (McKinsey, Credit Suisse, Reuters Thomson, Catalyst…) have had a line or two in the fine print, explaining that the reported correlation doesn’t indicate causation, and (in the more honest reports) that it can’t be taken to even imply causation.
Following our award of a Gormless Feminist of the Month award to Grant Thornton’s Francesca Lagerberg yesterday, we’ve track down the Grant Thornton report she was citing in her BBC radio interview yesterday – Women in Business: the value of diversity. It starts with these words by Ms Lagerberg:
Renewable energy and board diversity: two very different but topical issues with shared challenges. People generally accept that the world needs to move away from fossil fuels; that we can’t go on as we are; that collectively it’s our duty to make progress and clean up our act.
However, unknowns over performance remain: can we rely on renewables when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow? Upfront costs are higher, so how long will it take for the savings to feed through? In the same way, we know there is a moral imperative to get more women on the boards of companies [Note – we KNOW there is a moral imperative?] – that the status quo is the product of a bygone era.
But what about financial performance? Do companies with diverse boards really perform better than those run purely by men, which currently dominate the corporate landscape? The answer is yes: they perform better. Materially better.
It is quite the most woeful report on this topic I’ve ever seen from a major organization, and while a causal link is clearly implied throughout the report, the casual reader could be forgiven for failing to notice that no causal link has been demonstrated, and the lack of a causal link has not been indicated. It is a shameless feminist propaganda piece, nothing more. Grant Thornton need to recognize it as such, and fast, before the company becomes a laughing stock.