The ‘business case’ for more women on boards – it’s enough to drive a man mad…

On behalf of Campaign for Merit in Business I recently sent a written submission to the DBIS inquiry on corporate governance, and I have yet to learn if I’m going to be asked to give oral evidence, as I did to a previous inquiry in 2012. I hope so, as I believe I’d be the only person to point out that the entire ‘business case’ for higher female representation on boards is based upon the false premise that appointing more women to boards will lead to enhanced financial performance, while the evidence clearly demonstrates a causal link with corporate performance decline.

But that doesn’t stop the proponents of ‘more women on boards’ from relentlessly lying (or implying) a supposed business case. The list of written submissions to the DBIS inquiry is here. One is from the odious 30% club, who cite a number of studies and reports in support of their contention that more women on boards leads to improved financial performance. The most recent is from the Credit Suisse Research Institute, September 2016, the 51-page-long The CS Gender 3000: The Reward for Change. The second page starts with this:

Gender diversity is an important element of corporate performance and talent management efforts. In its second, updated report the Credit Suisse Research Institute reconfirms the clear link [my emphasis] between diversity and improved business performance.

The begged question, of course, is whether the clear link is a causal link, or meaningless correlation.

On p.25 a section starts, with the title, ‘Does greater female participation make for greater impact?’ We find this in the second paragraph on p.27:

Lower leverage, higher payouts and higher return on capital employed lend support to the idea that diversity implies better returns for lower risk. In addition, our HOLT analysis shows that companies with a number of female top managers hold meaningfully lower excess cash on their balance sheets. Figure 29 again shows a linear relationship as we see for the dividend payout ratio, 15% lower for companies with 25% women, 18% for those with 33% and 26% for those with 50%. While we still do not argue causality, [my emphasis] there is a consistency in our findings that demonstrates that greater gender diversity at senior levels leads to [my emphasis] greater returns for a company…

So the report doesn’t ‘argue causality’ then goes on to… er… argue causality. It’s enough to drive a man mad…

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The businessmen who dance to Helena Morrissey’s tunes are blithering idiots

The House of Commons Department for Business, Innovation, & Skills (DBIS) Committee is holding an inquiry into corporate governance, inevitably including ‘women on boards’, and the written submissions have been published – here. My submission on behalf of Campaign for Merit in Business is here. The paragraph numbering of the original hasn’t survived whatever process it was put through, a more readable version (the original) is here.

Helena Morrissey is the Chairwoman of Newton Investment Management and the Investment Association. She was the key figure in setting up The 30% Club, to which many FTSE chairmen belong, committed to increasing the proportion of women on their companies’ boards.

Ms Morrissey’s written submission is here. An extract:

Composition of Boards
There is plenty of empirical evidence (McKinsey, CSFB, Citibank, SocGen have all published extensive analyses, based on Global, Australian and European companies respectively) pointing to a positive correlation between gender diversity on boards and company performance. It is irrelevant that causality can’t be proved [my emphasis] – arguably the smart companies ‘get it’ around diversity and are therefore likely to be more likely to be forward looking in other areas.

Ms Morrissey is perfectly well aware that a causal link exists between increasing female representation on boards and corporate financial decline, because we sent her the evidence years ago. But even leaving this aside, if there were no evidence of a causal link either way, what precisely would there be for ‘smart companies’ to ‘get’ around diversity?

The businessmen and businesswomen who dance to Helena Morrissey’s tunes are blithering idiots, and should be ashamed of themselves, for driving her anti-meritocratic feminist agenda. The same can be said of the senior people at the CBI and the IOD for their roles in these assaults on the British business sector. The CBI’s written submission to the inquiry is here. Point 25 is a gem, misrepresenting correlation on performance as causation:

There is good evidence indicating that committing to diverse leadership has a beneficial impact on performance across a business. [Ref: McKinsey, Why diversity matters, January 2015.] The CBI’s Time for Action report highlights that firms with the highest levels of gender and ethnic diversity are 15% and 35% more likely to outperform their rivals. [Ref: loom, N., et al. Harvard Business School, Management practices across firms and countries, Harvard Business School, 2011.] Workplaces that are both diverse and inclusive are also associated with higher individual performance because employees are better able to innovate (+83%) and more engaged (+101%). [Ref: CBI/Accenture, Employment Trends Survey, 2013, 2014 and 2015.]

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Mike Buchanan’s written submissions to House of Commons and House of Lords inquiries in 2012, and a remarkable admission by Professor Susan Vinnicombe

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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House of Commons: Business, Innovation and Skills Committee inquiry into ‘corporate governance’

In 2012 – a year before the launch of J4MB – we launched Campaign for Merit in Business (‘C4MB’). C4MB was then, and remains to this day, the only organization in the world campaigning against government initiatives to bully companies into increasing the proportion of women on their boards, primarily for two reasons:

  • the initiatives are deeply anti-meritocratic; and
  • evidence clearly shows a causal link between increasing female representation on boards, and corporate financial decline (link below)

In 2012 I presented written evidence to House of Commons and House of Lords inquiries. Along with the renowned sociologist Dr Catherine Hakim (the originator of Preference Theory, in 2000) and Steve Moxon (author of The Woman Racket, published in 2008) I gave oral evidence to the House of Commons inquiry on 20 November 2012, four years ago to the day – here (video, 56:49).

I presented some of the evidence of a causal link between increasing female representation on boards, and corporate financial decline – five longitudinal studies – to both inquiries. The MPs and peers didn’t dispute the evidence, had no counter-evidence (many witnesses to the inquiry were mis-representing correlation as causation, as they do to this day) but pressed on regardless with the government’s bullying of large companies to ‘improve’ gender diversity on their boards, through the threat of legislated gender quotas.

The government’s bullying of FTSE100 companies to appoint more women to their boards – starting with the publication of the ridiculous Davies Report (2011) – led to FTSE100 companies doubling the proportion of women on their boards between 2011 (12%) and 2015 (25%). 96% of the new female director appointments over the period were as non-executive directors, giving the lie to feminist claims of a ‘glass ceiling’ keeping able women out of boardrooms.

Today the government is driving FTSE350 companies to have gender parity (50/50) on their boards. To their eternal shame the business sector – along with the CBI and Institute of Directors – have been complicit in this feminist-driven social engineering exercise. I cannot recall one FTSE350 director ever publicly criticising the initiatives.

As a result of frustration at the government’s refusal to engage with rational arguments, I launched J4MB in early 2013, and I’ve devoted little time and effort on C4MB since then. The government’s refusal to engage with rational arguments is, of course, apparent in other areas relating to state actions and inactions concerning men (and boys) and women (and girls).

It is with a heavy heart, then, and a deadline of 26 October, just six days away, that I’ve started work on our written submission for the new inquiry, having put it off for some weeks. The scope of the inquiry:

The Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) Committee has today launched an inquiry on corporate governance, focussing on executive pay, directors duties, and the composition of boardrooms, including worker representation and gender balance in executive positions. [my emphasis]

The BIS Committee inquiry follows on from the corporate governance failings highlighted by the Committee’s recent inquiries into BHS and Sports Direct, and in the wake of commitments from the Prime Minister to overhaul corporate governance. [my emphasis]

We knew it wouldn’t be long before Theresa ‘this is what a feminist looks like’ May reinvigorated the ‘women on boards’ initiative. The inquiry’s terms of reference include the following ones relevant to ‘composition of boards’:

  • What evidence is there that more diverse company boards perform better? [Answer: none, at least with regards to gender. The only evidence of a causal link is that when more women are appointed to corporate boards, financial performance declines. ]
  • How should greater diversity of board membership be achieved? What should diversity include, e.g. gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality, disability, experience, socio-economic background? [The assumption is that greater diversity should be increased, when to my knowledge no evidence supports the assumption, at least with regards to gender. And it is only the gender issue which will achieve traction, because it’s women who have historically and shamelessly pursued self-advancement onto corporate boards.]
  • What more should be done to increase the number of women in Executive positions on boards? [Again, the assumption that ‘something should be done’, only ‘what’ should be done being up for debate. The obvious answer to the rhetorical question – to increase the number of women in Executive positions on boards, more women will need to work harder in the relevant disciplines e.g. Finance – isn’t even considered as an option.]

Extracts from the same web page:

Chair of the BIS committee, Iain Wright MP, (L, Hartlepool) said:

“…The Prime Minister has spoken of workers representation on boards. We want to examine what this might look like in practice, how would this work, how would workers be selected? It’s all too clear that there is significant under-representation of women in executive levels. We’re interested in hearing about the barriers to women achieving senior positions, the measures being taken to remedy the situation, and what action Government might take to improve the gender balance.

Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“The UK has long been a leader in promoting high standards of governance, with our Corporate Governance Code being copied across the world. But the reputation of corporate Britain has not recovered from the financial crisis, and there are important questions that need to be addressed on issues including transparency, executive pay and board diversity. The Prime Minister has made clear that company boards are in her sights, so directors must fully engage in this debate.” [my emphasis]

Inquiry background

Composition of boards

Following the Davies Review, which successfully focussed on increasing the number of non-executive directors, [note: this is a naked mis-representation of what happened. At no time was it ever stated that the objective was to increase the number of female non-executive directors. This is a post-hoc rationalisation of the fact that virtually all the female director appointments were as non-executives, such was the shortage of suitably able women for executive positions] the BIS Committee wants to examine what more should be done to increase the number of women in executive positions… The inquiry also wants to consider how greater diversity of board membership could be achieved.

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Where are all the expat women?

Why are a minority of British executives who take up positions abroad with their companies women? Obvious reasons include:

  • A minority of British executives are women
  • Work orientation. As a class, women are less career-oriented than men (Dr Catherine Hakim’s Preference Theory (2000) – 4 in 7 British men are work-centred, only 1 in 7 British women is)
  • Hypergamy. Women seek to marry men who are substantially better-off than themselves, and this tendency increases as a woman’s personal wealth rises. The women who might be candidates for working abroad will therefore tend to have high-earning partners who would naturally be reluctant (or unable) to relocate abroad. The same would be less frequently true for male executives
  • Family responsibilities. If one person in a couple is to remain in the UK with the children, and the other work abroad, most women would prefer the first role to the second

None of this makes sense to work-centred feminists, of course, so I thank Martin for this piece of absurd feminist propaganda from the BBC. An extract:

“Women are just as likely to accept offers to work abroad, but they are simply less likely to be offered the opportunity to take on these roles” by their firms, says Cynthia Emrich, a vice president at Catalyst, a New York-based global nonprofit that promotes women in the workplace.

Only about 17% of women take international assignments compared to 28% of men, according to a 2012 report from Catalyst that studied high-potential employees from top business schools. Despite having the same willingness to take on a global role as their male counterparts, 64% of women say they were never offered a move abroad, compared with just 55% of men, the report showed.

Even if we take the data at face value, it simply doesn’t support the claim that ‘women are just as likely to accept offers to work abroad, but they are simply less likely to be offered the opportunity to take on these roles’. A majority of executives (64% of women, ‘just’ 55% of men) were never offered a move abroad, yet 17% of women took up the opportunity, compared with 28% of men. Surely this shows that women are less likely than men to accept the offers, as we’d expect to be the case?

Catalyst is a radical feminist campaign organization, whose ‘Bottom Line’ series of reports are used by those seeking to misrepresent correlation as causation with respect to the link between gender balance on corporate boards and financial performance.

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It pays to have more women in work, so policy must reflect this. Er… must it?

In today’s edition of The Times (p.39) there’s a woeful article by Philip Aldrick, Economics Editor, titled, ‘It pays to have more women in work, so policy must reflect this’. His analysis is feminist throughout, though I doubt he realises this. A particular gem:

Women are good for the bottom line. Companies with more women in senior management deliver higher returns on assets. No economist has taken a stab at the reason, but the evidence, most recently from IMF research into two million companies across 34 European countries, is simply that it does. More profits means more cash to invest, which means higher productivity and better prosperity for all.

I honestly cannot be bothered to check out the ‘IMF research’, because I’m 100% sure – after working on this issue for 4+ years – that it would report a correllation between more women in senior management, and higher returns. What it would NOT demonstrate – no research ever does – is a causal link, because it’s been known for years that a causal link exists between more women in senior positions, and corporate financial decline. I outlined the evidence of a causal link to House of Commons and House of Lords inquiries in 2012, and that evidence is here.

If any of this blog’s followers has more energy and time than myself to direct Philip Aldrick to this blog piece, I thank them warmly in advance. His email address might be Then again, it might not be. I could be wrong. It happened once before.

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EasyJet is offering 10 places for women each year on the easyJet pilot training programme and underwriting the £100,000 training loan. This is the ‘first phase’ of their long term strategy to increase the proportion of female pilots at the airline.

Few of our blog pieces about education and workplace-related issues have angered our supporters than one we posted in 2014 – here – about female Brunel University MSc Engineering students being handed a taxpayer-stolen lump sum of £22,750 denied to their male colleagues.

Social engineering in the public sector has long been rife, but it’s becoming increasingly common in the private sector, too, and not just ‘women in the boardroom’. The objective is to deny men advancement, or even stop them starting careers in well-paying professions.

Carolyn McCall is the CEO of the low-cost airline easyJet. She became the CEO of Guardian Media Group in 2006, after rising to be CEO of Guardian Newspapers Ltd.

My thanks to Nigel for sending me this:

Dear Mike,

I’ve forwarded the link below as it gives a list of examples of major firms actions on gender (of course no help to men!) Easy Jet are offering 10 places to women  on their pilot course at effectively their expense [note: more accurately, at their shareholders’ expense] if the pilot candidate (woman) doesn’t go on to be a working pilot. If you look at the other examples you will see similar as well as the usual Family Friendly, Mentoring training into management and other privileges.

I realise that you will be mad busy at the moment but I think this information of the case studies is worth having a good trawl through. I would think it will also interest members working in the various companies/industries.


The link will take you to a piece by the absurdly-named Government Equalities Office. The link to the piece on easyJet is here.

As a final comment, male unemployment has long been higher than female unemployment, and unemployment has long been known to be a bigger suicide risk factor for men than women. The cost of these social engineering programmes is paid in many ways, including men’s lives. Suicide continues to be the #1 cause of death for men under 50 in the UK.

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