‘London Live TV’ http://londonlive.co.uk was launched last week. It’s run by a sister company of two left-leaning papers, the Independent and the Evening Standard. I was invited onto a discussion panel on one of their flagship lunchtime shows. The presenter, Claudia-Liza Armah, emailed me the following beforehand. My thoughts are in square brackets:
“We’ll be asking why we need quotas to get women on boards.”
[We need neither quotas, nor the threat of them, given we know that increasing female representation on boards leads to corporate financial decline. Our briefing paper on the matter:
“Is enough being done to encourage and help women to progress to senior roles?”
[Too much is being done, mainly at taxpayers’ expense, although men pay 72% of the income tax collected in the UK, women only 28%. Given that on average women in senior roles perform less well than men – and virtually all the women on FTSE100 boards are only non-executive directors – NOTHING should be done to ‘encourage’ or ‘help’ women.]
“What effect are initiatives such as this having on men in the workplace?”
[Men see women being promoted ahead of them, even when the women are markedly less experienced and/or have less expertise. Almost every week we’re emailed stories – from men in both public sector and private sector organisations – of women being promoted above more experienced male colleagues, and the male colleagues then having to work overtime (invariably unpaid) teaching the women how to do their new jobs! Preferencing of women for senior roles solely on the grounds of gender understandably makes men both angry and demotivated.]
I was told two other people would be on the panel. One was Helena Morrissey, the founder and still the leader of The 30% Club, which campaigns for higher female representation on the boards of major British companies. Around a third of FTSE100 chairmen are members http://30percentclub.org/members/.
J4MB and its associated organisations have presented many FTSE100 chairmen with ‘Toady’ awards. One of the first was presented to Sir Roger Carr, chairman of Centrica plc. The following piece was prompted by our learning his daughter Caroline was at the time (late 2012) Goldman Sachs’s Global Head of Diversity and Leadership, and on the club’s steering committee.
The other person was Sarah Churchman, Head of Diversity at PwC, an international professional services firm. She was interviewed for International Business Times:
I’m too pushed for time to watch the piece. Harriet Harman MP, our rottweiler, is whining again. She wants to be taken to the park to terrorise the other dogs – the male dogs, specifically. If you watch the piece and think I should watch it – e.g. if Churchman claims (or, more likely, implies) that corporate performance improves when there are more women on boards – please email me email@example.com. Thank you. I’ll then publicly challenge her.
Hours before the discussion I was told Morrissey wouldn’t be joining us. Barbara Kasumu, the chief executive of the charity ‘Elevation Networks’ was replacing her. I spent time on her website and saw nothing to suggest she’d have anything perceptive to say in the discussion.
An hour before the discussion, I was in the ‘green room’ with Barbara. I explained my qualifications to talk about the subject of women (and men) in senior roles, having worked in senior roles in business for 30+ years (until my retirement in 2010) and led Campaign for Merit in Business https://c4mb.wordpress.com for the past two years. I explained I’d collected a lot of evidence showing a causal link between increasing female representation on boards and corporate financial decline, and offered her our short briefing paper (the second link in this article) to read, to help her prepare for the discussion. She declined, and spent the remainder of the hour sullenly tapping away on her smartphone.
Not long after, a young woman wearing dangerously high heels marched confidently into the room, and I was introduced to Emma Sinclair, serial entrepreneur, CEO of Target Parking, Daily Telegraph columnist. It transpired that Sarah Churchman, like Helena Morrissey, wouldn’t be joining us. Ms Sinclair promptly exited the room and next met us in the studio just before the discussion, where we were unable to talk.
The video of our discussion is available through this link – click on the file dated 4 April 2014: