In 2012, the year before the launch of J4MB, I sent written submissions to a House of Commons inquiry, ‘Women in the Workplace’ – here (35 pages) – and a House of Lords inquiry, ‘Women on Boards’, here (3 pages).
Susan Vinnicombe, a British ‘professor’, has been for many years the leading academic proponent of ‘more women on boards’ in the world. She made a remarkable admission to the same House of Lords inquiry, when giving oral evidence. Her exchange with Lord Fearn (I’ve put in bold text, the most relevant section):
Lord Fearn: Is there a strong business case for improving the gender diversity of boards? If so, does it follow that there is also a strong business case for increased gender diversity on boards across the EU?
Professor Susan Vinnicombe: Yes. We believe that there is a very strong, compelling and comprehensive business case for gender diversity on boards, and it is a case which stands not only in the UK but across the EU and indeed globally. It sits on several broad platforms.
One is talent management. In all the developing countries of the world, 60% of the graduates are now women. We have a tremendous number of women coming in at graduate level to our big corporates. So the fact that we are seeing so few women at the top on our corporate boards is a sheer waste of talent. Talent management would be our first point concerning the business case.
Secondly, if corporates are to serve their markets well, it just makes sense that they need to be able to represent those markets. In many of the markets, women are the consumers, so it makes very good business sense to have women on the corporate boards of those companies.
Thirdly, there has been quite a push in the past – indeed, we ourselves have engaged in such research – to look at the relationship between having women on corporate boards and financial performance. We do not subscribe to this research. We have shared it with chairmen and they do not think that it makes sense. We agree that it does not make sense. You cannot correlate two or three women on a massive corporate board with a return on investment, return on equity, turnover or profits. We have dropped such research in the past five years and I am pleased to say that Catalyst, which claims to have done a ground-breaking study on this in the US, officially dropped this line of argument last September.
However, there are broader, non-financial performance indicators, such as corporate social responsibility, employee involvement, innovation, philanthropy and good communications, which have been seen to be connected to companies that have women on their boards.
The original blog piece on Susan Vinnicombe’s admission is here.
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