An open invitation to Philip Aldrick, Economics Editor of The Times

I’ve been a subscriber to The Times for some years, despite the paper’s enthusiasm for spreading feminist narratives, no matter how clearly they’re based on lies. Philip Aldrick’s profile on The Times website:

Philip Aldrick is economics editor and an economics columnist for The Times, covering the daily news and writing two opinion pieces a week. He joined the paper in 2013 from The Daily Telegraph, where he held the same role. Prior to that he was banking editor at the Telegraph during the financial crisis, winning several awards including business and finance journalist of the year at the 2011 Press Awards. He was shortlisted again for his economics columns in the 2017 Press Awards.

@philaldrick

His article in today’s Times, which led to me writing an open letter inviting him to become the first mainstream media journalist in the world to tell the truth about the impact of increasing female representation on boards:

Business executives remain stubbornly male, pale and stale, despite progress on bringing women into the boardroom, governance experts have said.

Between 1996 and 2017, the share of women in FTSE 100 executive roles has risen from 1 per cent to only 3 per cent, according to ICSA: The Governance Institute. It analysed the boards of Britain’s top 100 listed companies for its report A View at the Top.

The slow progress on gender diversity in key decision-making roles has been masked by a big increase in non-executive positions. Female representation on FTSE 100 boards has risen from 4.1 per cent in 1996 to 28 per cent in 2017. The institute said that the findings showed “a lack of genuine diversity”.

Improving gender diversity on boards is one of the government’s core policy goals. In 2016 the Hampton- Alexander Review set a target that women should hold 33 per cent of board and senior leadership positions in the FTSE 350 by the end of 2020.

Figures released this month suggest that companies are on track to meet the challenge, with 32.1 per cent of FTSE 100 board positions occupied by women in November and 27.5 per cent for the FTSE 250. Only four of Britain’s 350 largest listed companies have no women board members.

Kelly Tolhurst, a business minister, said: “These figures show there are now more women than ever before at the top of UK business.”

However, the institute’s analysis suggests that far more effort is needed if advances are to last. Without more progress, “there will be little change in the C-Suite in coming years”, it said.

Unrepresentative boards may be doing shareholders a disservice. Studies have shown that companies with women on the board perform better. [J4MB emphasis.]

The institute is a 125-year-old body that works with regulators to champion high standards of governance. Its research was a follow-up review to similar analysis undertaken in 1998 by Elisabeth Marx, a leadership consultant.

It added that diversity was about more than gender balance. “While there has been progress in gender diversity at non-executive director level, boards remain more obviously male, as well as significantly whiter than the British population,” it said. “Directors are increasing in age, with little diversity in terms of educational or career background.”

The average age of a FTSE 100 board director was 58.5 years in 2017, compared with 56 in 1996. A greater proportion came from a background of accountancy or finance — 49 per cent in 2017, up from 38 per cent in 1996 — and a quarter had qualifications from Oxbridge or Harvard University.

Sara Drake, head of the institute, said: “Given the rapidly changing expectations of organisations and their boards, diversity of thoughts and experience are an even more crucial component of board effectiveness than ever before.”

You can subscribe to The Times here.

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James Delingpole: “Study – Woke Gender Quotas on Company Boards Reduce Profitability by 12 Percent”

Enjoy. The study to which James Delingpole refers was published in The Leadership Quarterly three weeks ago – Women directors, firm performance, and firm risk: A causal perspective. The full Abstract:

Norway was the first of ten countries to legislate gender quotas for boards of publicly traded firms. There is considerable debate and mixed evidence concerning the implications of female board representation. In this paper, we explain the main sources of biases in the existing literature on the effects of women directors on firm performance and review methods to account for these biases. We address the endogeneity problem by using a difference-in-differences approach to study the effects of women directors on firm performance with specific consideration of the common trend assumption, and we explicitly distinguish between accounting-based (i.e., operating income divided by assets, return on assets) and market-based (i.e., market-to-book ratio and Tobin’s Q) performance measures in the Norwegian setting. The control group are firms from Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. We further extend the analysis of causal effects of women directors to firm risk. Our results imply a negative effect of mandated female representation on firm performance and on firm risk.

Published yesterday, Delingpole’s article has already attracted 391 comments. The most up-voted, from “Loose Cannon”:

If women’s executive abilities were being undervalued/underutilized, then enterprising female investors and leaders would arbitrage the discrepancy and create more female driven businesses. Same applies to the so-called gender pay gap which would signal employers to hire an all female workforce and reap the cost advantage.

Regular visitors to this website will be aware that in 2012 I gave evidence to House of Commons and House of Lords inquiries, confirming a causal link between increasing female representation on boards, and corporate financial decline. I’ve just added details of this new study to our short briefing paper with direct links to the studies confirming that causal link – here.

Along with Dr Catherine Hakim and Steve Moxon, I gave oral evidence to the House of Commons inquiry in 2012 – here (video, 56:50).

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UK Men’s Rights Action, our official supporters’ Facebook page, is here.

If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.

We won’t let diversity tsars bully us, insist bosses at Daejan Holdings, Britain’s last big company with no women on the board

A piece in the latest edition of the Mail on Sunday. We salute the company’s board members.

If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.

Daejan Holdings, a FTSE250 property group, won’t appoint women ‘just for the sake of it’

At last, a major company to applaud on the issue of gender diversity in the boardroom. A piece by James Hurley in today’s Times:

Britain’s sole large listed company with no women on its board said has that it is not inclined to appoint a female director “just for the sake of it”.

Daejan Holdings, a FTSE 250 property group, is the only remaining business among Britain’s 350 largest quoted companies to have resisted pressure from the government’s Hampton-Alexander review body to stamp out all-male boardrooms.

The company, which owns buildings worth £2.4 billion, said that the Orthodox Jewish beliefs of its controlling family should be considered. Daejan was founded by Osias Freshwater, who came to the UK as a refugee from Nazi Germany. The group is led by his sons Benzion, 71, and Solomon, 63.

A strict interpretation of Orthodox religious law forbids or restricts physical contact with a member of the opposite sex except for one’s spouse and certain family members.

Daejan said that it had received a series of letters from the Hampton- Alexander Review. Denise Wilson, 60, the body’s chief executive, said: “Companies that have been slow to act are looking increasingly out of touch.” The Mail on Sunday first reported the row.

Mark Jenner, 67, company secretary, said that the religion of the Freshwater family was a “factor” in its all-male board. “This is not a legal obligation,” he said. “We’re not digging our heels in, saying we don’t like women.”

Mr Jenner said that while the brothers were not willing to be within touching distance of female colleagues, they were open to sharing their boardroom with women. He said that they should not be told “how to run their business”. “Next time there is a vacancy we will appoint on merit, whether it’s a man or a woman,” he said.

You can subscribe to The Times here.

If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.

Fearless Girl

Enjoy (9:18).

If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.

Companies told women must make up third of senior directors by 2020

Our thanks to Ian for this. An extract:

The Investment Association has 250 members which manage £7.7tn in assets. Its boss Chris Cummings said that it is “unacceptable” that one in five of the UK’s biggest companies are falling short on gender diversity.

“Companies must do more than take the tokenistic step of appointing just one woman to their board and consider that job done.

“There is also compelling evidence that boards with greater gender balance outperform their less diverse peers,” he said.

In the final sentence Cummings is, of course, confusing correlation with causation – whether knowingly or unknowingly. Better-performing firms can more easily afford to engage in social engineering exercises such as increasing the proportion of women on their boards. As every follower of this blog  knows, the only “compelling evidence” of a causal link is that between increasing gender diversity on boards, and financial performance decline. The evidence is here. Nobody has challenged the evidence since we published it in 2012, and presented it to House of Commons and House of Lords inquiries the same year.

If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.

Sacha Romanovitch, first female boss of a major City accountancy firm, Grant Thornton, fired for pursuing a “socialist agenda”

Our thanks to James and Ray for this. Extracts:

Sacha Romanovitch, the first UK female chief executive of a major City accountancy firm, will step down from Grant Thornton by the end of this year…

Romanovitch said: “As we enter the next phase of our plans, following discussions with Grant Thornton’s board, we have agreed that the time is right for a new chief executive to take the firm forward. I will be working to support a smooth transition to our next chief executive, focusing on continuing to deliver sustainable value for our clients through our diverse [J4MB emphasis] and talented team.”…

Last month, an unnamed Grant Thornton insider claiming to speak for 15 partners or directors [£] [J4MB: Another odd Grauniad typo] leaked to several news organisations the contents of Romanovitch’s annual performance review and an unsigned complaint saying she had “misdirected” the firm.

The anonymous writer accused Romanovitch of pursuing a “socialist agenda” [J4MB: More accurately, a feminist agenda, presumably, of advancing women over men, regardless of their relative merit] and that the firm had no focus on profitability under her leadership and was “out of control”….

The firm’s web page on Romanovitch is here. An extract:

My real passion is enabling others to meet their potential, which has led me to become a qualified coach; to champion our firm’s ground-breaking apprentice programme; and to challenge the norm on views regarding diversity [J4MB emphasis] – a role I am so passionate about I am the chair of the Patron Group for Access Accountancy.

If everyone who read this gave us just £1.00 – or even better, £1.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. Click here to make a difference. Thanks.

Target for women in boardrooms to be missed (at last, some good news)

A piece by Tabby Kinder in today’s Times. I’ve made a number of comments, and posted to links to materials including William Collins’s celebrated piece on gender bias in prison sentencing – here. I urge you to post some comments if you have an interest in this issue. Thanks.

Britain’s 350 biggest companies are likely to miss a government-backed target that says a third of board positions should be held by women by 2020.

Women represent just 25.5 per cent of directors in FTSE 350 companies, according to the Hampton-Alexander review, which was launched by the government in 2016 to increase gender diversity. To meet the target, 40 per cent of all appointments made in the next two years would need to go to women.

Rachel Reeves, chairwoman of the business, energy and industrial strategy committee, accused British companies of moving at a “snail’s pace” and called on investors to put more pressure on boards to improve diversity.

The Hampton-Alexander review has named and shamed ten companies that have no women on their boards, including Sports Direct International, Stobart Group and Herald Investment Trust.

“The inglorious ten companies who still have all-male boards need to drag themselves out of the dark ages and ensure they bring in a more diverse and valuable perspective to the running of their businesses rather than running a closed club of the old boys’ network,” Ms Reeves said.

Chris Cummings, chief executive of the Investment Association, said companies that did not attempt to increase diversity risked shareholder revolts.

The review published explanations that were given for not appointing women, including “they don’t fit in”, “they don’t want the hassle” and “all the good ones have already gone”. Andrew Griffiths, a business minister, said the findings were “pitiful”.

Women make up 29 per cent of FTSE 100 board positions, up from 12.5 per cent in 2011. They will meet the government’s target if progress over the next two years matches the appointments made in the last three years.

You can subscribe to The Times here.

First sexist madness, then racist madness. Boards struggling to hit ethnic targets.

A piece by Gurpreet Narwan in today’s Times:

Most directors sit on boards with only white members and many believe that their companies will struggle to meet the government’s commitment to ending all-white boards within six years.

Britain’s biggest public companies should have at least one non-white director within three years, according to the Parker Review, a government-backed report, which says that corporate decision-making will improve if boards are more diverse.

To hit this target companies still have “considerable work to do”, research by Ridgeway Partners, an executive headhunter, found. Its survey of FTSE 350 directors found that 64 per cent are on all-white boards and 79 per cent of those say that their company is not on track to recruit a non-white board member by the Parker Review’s deadline, which is 2021 for FTSE 100 companies and 2024 for each FTSE 250 board.

Companies are making progress with increasing the number of women on boards. More than two thirds of FTSE 350 board members said that their employers were on track to meet a government objective for 33 per cent of board members to be women by 2020. Almost three quarters of FTSE 100 board members felt they were on track.

Louise Angel, of Ridgeway Partners, said that achieving greater ethnic diversity among board members was “still a relatively new agenda topic for a lot of companies” but predicted “progress over the next few years, in the same way that we have seen a big improvement in gender diversity since 2011”.

Of those surveyed, half said that they would like more ethnic diversity on boards, while 43 per cent said they would welcome more gender diversity. Only 18 per cent listed boardroom diversity as one of their most important considerations.

The report also found that 26 per cent thought their board’s level of engagement with community stakeholders was “insufficient”. Customer engagement was also described as insufficient by 20 per cent of respondents.

Ms Angel said that community engagement needed improving but that in recent years boardrooms had “consistently adapted and evolved to absorb new responsibilities”.

You can subscribe to The Times here.

Dr Catherine Hakim, originator of Preference Theory, to attend the conference

We’re delighted to report that Dr Catherine Hakim, a world-renowned British sociologist, will be attending the conference.

She’s best known to followers of this website as the originator of Preference Theory in 2000, when she was a Senior Research Fellow at the LSE. For us, the key statistics she reported in her paper were that four in seven British men are “work-centred”, while just one in seven British women is.

All else being equal, we’d expect the gender balance on (say) FTSE100 boards to be around 80% male, 20% female. But all else is far from equal. Two thirds of private sector employees are men, and men still occupy most of the senior positions in professions which disproportionately lead to board directorships, notably Finance. Adding in these factors, we’d expect women to take up fewer than 5% of FTSE100 directorships. Due to government threats of legislated gender quotas, women now occupy over 25% of those positions, and the figure continues to rise. Tellingly, more than 90% of female FTSE100 board directors are Non-Executive Directors.

In late 2012 my request to give oral evidence on behalf of Campaign for Merit in Business to the House of Commons inquiry “Women in the Workplace” was accepted, and at my request I was accompanied by Dr Catherine Hakim and Steve Moxon. The video (56:49) is here.

The committee utterly refused to engage with the evidence I presented of a causal link between increasing female representation on boards and corporate financial decline. Three months later we launched J4MB.