National exposure on BBC1 television (well, 75 seconds of it, anyway)

This morning I was interviewed for the first time on national television about women’s quotas in the boardroom – albeit briefly – for the BBC1 programme Sunday Morning Live. The section started with an excellent introduction by Angela Epstein, a journalist and broadcaster, a regular contributor to (among other publications) The Daily Mail and The Jewish Chronicle.

The link on BBC iPlayer has now lapsed, and a video file is now available on my Facebook page. My thanks to the gentleman who runs the excellent website for preparing the file, and for uploading it. The link:

The issues of sexual harassment and discrimination against women in the workplace were raised before I spoke, so I had to deal with them in the short time I expected to have available. Unfortunately the BBC wouldn’t agree to put ‘Campaign for Merit in Business’ on the screen while I was speaking, nor would they permit me to use the campaign name in my contribution, which was limited to the following:

I worked in a number of major businesses for over 30 years after 1979, the year that Margaret Thatcher was first elected as prime minister. In all those years I never once encountered a case of a woman facing sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. I believe they’ve been hugely exaggerated as problems, and you have to ask yourself why that is.

The idea of an improvement in ‘climate’ is just one of many self-serving arguments used to justify positive discrimination for women in the workplace. Another is that baseless conspiracy theory, the ‘glass ceiling’. A third argument is that when more women get onto company boards, performance improves. But the truth is that academic studies clearly show that performance declines when more women are appointed onto boards.

In the studio (unlike myself) was the aforementioned pro-quotas militant feminist, Julie Bindel, the charming woman who referred to me as ‘Buchanan’ (36:04). She writes for The Guardian – what are the chances? Being sneered at on national television by a militant feminist journalist at The Guardian. Life really doesn’t get much better, does it? A google search quickly led me to a few details on Ms Bindel:

I’d have liked more time to outline our arguments, particularly the argument that the mere threat of quotas has caused the proportion of FTSE100 new directorships going to women to rise from 13% (2010) to 55% (March – August 2012), and that all the women appointed in 2012 were appointed as non-executive directors, while all the 18 new executive directors were men. I’d like to have challenged Julie Bindel on that gender gap. Maybe, one day, I shall… but you can only do so much in 75 seconds.

I’m grateful to BBC television for giving some national exposure to our arguments. It’s already led to people emailing me and offering support, as did the recent Martha Kearney radio interview on BBC Radio 4. Happy days.

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