Another day, another piece of ‘women on boards’ nonsense

Will the insane policy direction of driving up female representation on boards, despite the strong evidence it will damage companies, never cease? It would seem not. A supporter has pointed me to a piece in ‘HR Magazine’ concerning Debbie White, CEO of Sodexo UK & Ireland, publicly coming out in favour of quotas for women on boards:

Mail Online has covered the matter in a very superficial manner:

The journalist Louise Eccles cites a ‘new report’ but fails to say what it is. She then quotes data from Catalyst whose reports have been widely misused by proponents of more women on boards.

I’ll now write and send a public challenge to Debbie White, asking her why there should be more women on boards when the evidence base shows this policy direction will damage Sodexo’s performance and in turn the shareholders’ returns. I’ll give her a week to respond, and if she doesn’t, we’ll add this  to The List of Shame:

4 thoughts on “Another day, another piece of ‘women on boards’ nonsense

  1. Pingback: A public challenge to Debbie White, CEO, Sodexo UK & Ireland |

  2. Pingback: A public challenge to Debbie White, CEO, Sodexo UK & Ireland | Campaign for Merit in Business

  3. Has Sodexo officially introduced quotas for women on its board? It seems not. These are the personal views of one of its employees, albeit it its CEO, but still an employee. Whatever one thinks about board quotas for women, has the board of Sodexo made such an announcement? No.

    Does Ms White not realise what effect this sort of behaviour could have on people’s investment in the firm? This is a highly contentious issue that could seriously affect the value of a publicly listed company, especially as there is now a plethora of sound, solid evidence from the Norway experience of quotas that shows that the significant presence of women on boards not only blunts corporate performance, but also causes shareholder jitters that affect a company’s market value and make it vulnerable to hostile takeover.

    Investors are not stupid. Apart from any other consideration, if they see a company effectively having its board invaded and possible taken over by feminists, it is clear that the board will become subject to internecine tensions that will prevent it focussing its total energy on the one thing boards need to do: ensure corporate financial performance in the interests of the firm’s owners, the shareholders, the source of its capital for future development. The political correctness that feminists bring groups they colonise takes over and decisions get taken to appease them, not get the best bang for the investors’ buck.

    Furthermore, the appointment of directors to a board and the policies driving such appointments are matters reserved to the board, not the company’s executives. Shareholders of Sodexo, need to be very concerned indeed for their investment in the company when its CEO is displaying such lack of common sense and corporate responsibility and displaying such radical feminist credentials.

    If I were the chaiman of Sodexo, I would be having Ms White in to my office and explaining rather firmly: first that she should get her facts right before making public utterances about matters as contentious as these and, by virtue of her job, thereby associating them with the company; second, that she should watch herself and be careful to constrain her public activity, avoiding utterances like this and confining them to matters concerned with her employment by the company as its chief executive, not her political views. I am pretty sure this would happen if a CEO was openly agitating for the BNP for example.

    I really wonder about the corporate capacity of women like Ms White who, in senior positions in companies and carrying enormous fiscal responsibility, clearly feel it is perfectly OK to mix their personal political ideology with that of their company’s reputation in the public domain. Women First indeed! What unmitigated and naked bias is this? What about the principles of diversity? What does this say about this woman’s balance and attitude to recruitment in the firm she is in charge of running?

    This is a serious professional blunder that not only calls into question Ms White’s ability to discharge her responsibilities as CEO of part of an international organisation, but seriously calls into question her common sense.

    • Thanks for this. I couldn’t agree with you more. In 2010, before the threat of gender quotas, 13% of newly-appointed FTSE100 directors were women (almost all appointed as non-execs). The threat of quotas came in the Davies Report (February 2011). By 2012, the proportion had more than quadrupled, to 55% in that year (again, almost all as non-execs). Apparently the rate of ‘progress’ isn’t fast enough, hence this call for legislated quotas. I plan to raise this issue with Sodexo’s head office. The company is a French multinational with annual revenues of about £11 billion, and market capitalisation of around £5 billion.

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