Little more than five months after its launch, this campaign is going from strength to strength. A few measures of our success:
1. There’s a growing acceptance of the robustness of our key arguments, notably that claims of causal links between ‘improved’ gender diversity in boardrooms and enhanced corporate performance aren’t supported up by any evidence. We’ve challenged dozens of organisations (30% club, Professional Boards Forum, Catalyst, EHRC, DBIS, IEDP…) which campaign and/or working for ‘improved’ gender diversity on boards, as well as hundreds of individual proponents, and collectively they’ve provided us with not a shred of evidence in support of a causal link. By way of contrast, we’ve posted details of four rigorous studies linking ‘improved’ gender diversity on boards to declines in corporate performance. The most comprehensive of the four studies is the Ahern/Dittmar study which describes the impact of legislated quotas on Norwegian publicly-listed companies.
2. Our campaign is attracting ever more exposure in the media – most recently Daily Mail, Evening Standard, interviews with BBC Radio 4, Voice of Russia…
3. ‘Hits’ on the C4MB blog have grown exponentially over time. On a month-by–month basis ‘hits’ have been increasing more than tenfold. The rate of increase shows no sign of slowing down.
4. Possibly because of the exposure and impact we’re achieving, the flow of donations to support our campaign has been increasing month by month. 100% of all donations are used exclusively to offset costs incurred in campaigning.
5. We’re getting an increasing number of expressions of support, sometimes from men who are angry that they’ve been passed over for promotion in favour of women with markedly less merit. I don’t think it will be long before a number of these men take their employers to court over illegal – but widespread – positive discrimination for women.
One of our key success factors has been the investment of significant time and effort in analysing – and, where appropriate, challenging – claims (and inferences) of causal links between increased gender diversity on boards and enhanced corporate performance. All such claims have been shown to be unsound, and most have turned out to be misrepresentations of correlation as causation. Often the original studies make it perfectly clear they’re reporting correlation, not causation, yet proponents of ‘improved’ gender diversity misrepresent those studies and take excerpts out of context. McKinsey reports are a prime example. We’re not aware of a single McKinsey study in this area which doesn’t make it perfectly clear that causation isn’t being claimed or implied, and nor should it be inferred. Despite this, McKinsey reports continue to be presented as containing evidence of positive causal links.
It’s critical that we continue to base our arguments upon intellectually rigorous and highly defendable positions. We recently decided the campaign would benefit from the appointment of a Research Director, and considered numerous candidates for the position. It’s a very challenging position to fill due to the multi-disciplinary nature of some of the arguments with which we need to engage. Our own arguments are sometimes multi-disciplinary in nature too.
After an exhaustive review of potential candidates for the position, one stood out head and shoulders above the rest. Since the launch of this campaign, Michael Klein of http://sciencefiles.org has made a valuable contribution. His reviews of research studies – many of them clearly ideological in both origin and purpose – have been insightful, and attracted considerable favourable comment. Not one of his reviews has been challenged in any way by the writers of the studies in question.
Michael has a considerable depth and breadth of understanding of numerous disciplines including economics, business, social sciences, politics and philosophy. We offered him the position of Research Director recently, and I’m delighted to report that he’s accepted the offer.
Regular visitors to this blog will be aware that Michael recently wrote a lengthy and devastating critique of a recently-published book described by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (in a response to our Freedom of Information Act enquiry) as an ‘authoritative’ guide to the impact of gender diversity in the boardroom. The critique is here:
One of the three co-editors of the book (all are women, what are the chances?) is a British academic – Professor Colette Fagan of the University of Manchester – while two are of the Spanish persuasion. Since we posted a piece about the EHRC response and Michael Klein’s critique, the number of blog ‘hits’ originating from Spain has increased eightfold.
We wish Michael Klein a long and happy association with Campaign for Merit in Business.