My heart sank a few minutes ago when an email arrived from the DBIS, with a link to a press release from our Anti-Business Secretary, Vince Cable:
One strand of the government’s bullying of companies into appointing more women to their boards consists of a ‘voluntary’ code of conduct being adopted by executive search firms. You’ll see the narrative has now moved on from the FTSE100 to the FTSE350, as we predicted some time ago. The whole ‘more women on boards’ initiative is a gravy train for executive search firms – as well as the poorly qualified women they try to persuade major companies to appoint – so of course the search firms are supportive of this insane direction of travel.
At one time David Cameron, Vince Cable and others claimed a business case for increasing the representation of women on boards, i.e. corporate financial performance could be expected to improve. C4MB have conclusively blown that fantasy/lie/delusion/myth (call it what you will) out of the water, and even Vince Cable hasn’t made such nonsensical claims publicly for some time – to the best of our knowledge, anyway.
Our briefing paper on the evidence showing that increasing female representation on boards leads to corporate financial declines:
The press release informs us that Charlotte Sweeney – I don’t have an email address, but her Twitter address is @charlottesweene – has been appointed to review the voluntary code of conduct of the executive search industry. It continues:
Charlotte has over 20 years experience of equality, diversity, inclusion, health & wellbeing, change management, employee engagement and corporate culture shift at a global and local level, with a clear link to business performance.
From 2009 – 2012 she was the International Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Nomura International PLC. Within that time she developed and implemented Nomura’s first Diversity & Inclusion Strategy.
Before Nomura, she joined HBOS plc as Head of Diversity in 2005 – 2009 and developed the first group wide diversity strategy, including regular diversity reporting within business planning and developing the Diversity Steering Group chaired by the CEO.
Prior to this role she was the diversity manager at Barclays PLC from 2000-2005 specialising in diversity, culture change, change leadership and executive coaching. She won a number of awards including the Personnel Today DWP Age Positive at Work Award.
So, who better than Charlotte Sweeney to supply us with evidence of ‘a clear link to business performance’, that improved gender diversity on boards leads to improved corporate financial performance, the elusive Holy Grail of the diversity, equality, and inclusivity gravy train? A contact at the DBIS has kindly agreed to forward this blog piece to her.
Our public challenge to Ms Sweeney:
Charlotte, good afternoon. We have five longitudinal studies showing that when more women are appointed to major corporate boards, financial performance declines:
If you refute these studies, could you please outline why? And if you know of any reports or studies showing a causal link between increased female representation on boards and improved financial performance, could you please email me at email@example.com with directions to them? Please don’t send me reports (e.g. McKinsey, Credit Suisse, Reuters…) which make it perfectly clear they’re reporting correlation, not causation, and that correlation neither proves nor even implies causation. Thank you.
I wonder if Ms Sweeney will have the integrity to respond? I won’t hold my breath.