An open letter to the Director-General of the CBI

4 February 2012

Dear Mr Cridland,

The hijacking of the ‘gender balance in the boardroom’ agenda by radical feminists

I hope this finds you well. As the author of a book on the subject of the genders in the workplace1 I read your report, ‘Room at the top: Improving gender diversity on UK corporate boards’ with interest. I’m sorry to see the CBI putting its name on a report filled from beginning to end with radical feminist fantasies, lies, delusions and myths. Most of the assertions in the report are the same as those put forward by feminist campaigning organisations such as The Fawcett Society. I note that in addition to the ‘CBI group on board gender diversity’ you cite four ‘employers and experts’ who contributed to the report, and that all four are women. Quelle surprise. An example of the ‘gender diversity’ I’ve come to expect in this field.

I was at least encouraged by the CBI’s stated opposition to quotas, which is mentioned in the report. But in accepting the feminist arguments for ‘improved’ gender balance in the boardroom you’re making the compulsory introduction of gender balance quotas by this government inevitable. Radical feminists will happily see the business sector damaged by the pursuit of gender initiatives.

The analysis on page 8 of the report, on why existing initiatives aren’t making ‘sufficient’ progress, is enlightening. You show six stages from graduate recruitment to board membership, and I shall comment on each in turn:

Many companies now attract equal proportions of male and female graduates at entry-level posts through positive action initiatives.

‘Positive action initiatives’ are effectively positive discrimination initiatives, which remain illegal. The term itself reflects the weasel words used in The Equality Act (2010), a piece of legislation drawn up by the radical feminists of the last Labour administration and enacted with unseemly haste by the coalition after the last general election. Does the CBI support these illegal initiatives?

Special efforts are made to break down occupation segregation by encouraging women to follow careers based on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Those efforts have been failing for decades and will continue to do so, despite millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being focused on the ‘problem’, because they deny that most women’s natures different from most men’s natures. Given the same options, women and men make different choices.

Initiatives designed to boost female representation in middle management have had a positive effect by providing a better work-life balance, through flexible working and occupational maternity provisions, and through developing talent and mentoring programmes.

Again we come to initiatives – this time to ‘boost female representation’ – which are clearly illegal. Leaving this to one side, what has ‘work-life balance’ to do with competing for boardroom positions? In any other field this would be regarded as absurd. Will the athletes at the London Olympics have their prospects of winning medals improved by pursuing work-life balance, or are they competing? And have any companies’ shareholders ever given approval for their money to be spent on the various social engineering programmes you mention?

Female representation starts to fall away at senior management as greater sacrifices are required for progression. For example, some women choose to ‘level down’ their career aspirations to balance their caring responsibilities. Others simply choose not to push for further advancement in the current environment.

These issues simply reflect women’s gender-typical life choices. I refer you to a book written by the psychologist Susan Pinker, The Sexual Paradox. She describes in detail why fewer women than men seek top jobs, and it’s nothing to do with ‘the current environment’.

By the time the pipeline reaches the board, the pool of talent has fallen, limiting the probability of female representation at the highest level.

I agree with this statement but the report omits to mention a blindingly obvious point – the pool of talent has fallen because of the choices made by women themselves.

Educational and career choices made earlier also become evident – with fewer women taking up operational and P&L roles at board level

I also agree with this statement – but I fail to see why companies should respond to this reality with initiatives to ‘improve’ gender diversity in the boardroom.

The CBI isn’t reflecting the views of its members in pursuing the cause of ‘improved’ gender balance in the boardroom, but is actively campaigning against their natural rights to manage their businesses as they see fit. What mandate does the CBI have from its members to pursue gender balance initiatives? I look forward to your response to that specific question, and in the meantime I shall be posting this letter on my blog I reserve the right to issue a press release on this matter or after 20 February, and I hope to hear from you before then.

Yours sincerely,

Mike Buchanan

1The Glass Ceiling Delusion: the real reasons more women don’t reach senior positions (2011).

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s