In October, the government is expected to publish another report on ‘women on boards’. It has been widely trailed in the media that it won’t demand an increase in the infamous Davies Report (2011) target of 25% female representation on FTSE100 boards by 2015, a target which was recently met through the appointment of many female directors, almost all as non-executive directors. Tellingly, the target applied to FTSE100 boards on average, not to individual companies.
It’s understood there will be demands in the forthcoming report for more women to be appointed to the executive levels immediately below board level, in an effort to ‘solve’ the mythical ‘pipeline problem’. So another legion of poorly qualified women will be given positions they couldn’t have attained without government interference – a Conservative government, come to that. Shame on the women, and shame on the Conservative party, and Sajid Javid MP, Business Secretary, in particular.
In June we mailed a letter with three FoI requests (about the impact of increasing female representation on corporate boards, on financial performance) to Sajid Javid. This was the first opportunity a Business Secretary in a Conservative administration had to consider the matter, the last government having been a Conservative-led coalition. DBIS claimed not to have received the letter, so we emailed it to them, and yesterday afternoon we received a response.
It contains some predictable ideologically-driven nonsense, easily dismissed as such, but for the first time a government department has made an effort – at our request, it should be said – to challenge the five longitudinal studies we’ve been citing since 2012 as evidencing the negative impact of increasing female representation on boards. Well, three of the five studies, anyway, and they’ve made a poor job of that. We’re about to email our response. To make sense of parts of it you’ll need to look at our marked-up version of the DBIS response.
In our response we’ve demanded an internal review of the response, and we look forward to the outcome.