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Our public challenge of Samantha Beckett, Director General, Economics & Markets, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

We’re about to email this letter to Samantha Beckett. We’ve given her until 2 October to respond to our public challenge.

A contemptuous response from Samantha Beckett, Director General, Economics & Markets, DBIS

Some months ago we sent a public challenge to Sajid Javid MP, Business Secretary, concerning the government’s bullying of FTSE100 companies into appointing more women onto their boards, despite unequivocal evidence (from longitudinal studies) of a causal link between driving up female representation on boards, and corporate financial decline.

The response from his department was ridiculous in the extreme, and I took many hours to critique it. I included that critique in a letter to DBIS, asking for an internal review. Our blog post with the associated documents is here.

We’ve just received an email with the outcome of that ‘review’. The letter was signed by Samantha Beckett – ‘Sam’ – Director General, Economics & Markets, and she could not have engaged less with the substantive points we’re making. It is nothing short of contemptuous. She repeats some of the points made in previous communications, which we’ve shown to be demonstrably wrong.

She ends the letter with this:

In compliance with the Act, I have conducted an internal review of the original response. In performing that review I have considered whether the original response to your request was correct.

I have carefully considered the scope of material held by the Department (BIS) which potentially falls within the ambit of your request i.e. the “evidence base”. The Act gives you the right to request information held by BIS. BIS is not, however, required to create new information (e.g. by producing new synthesis of reports) in order to answer a request. Nor is it required to reinterpret information which has been published or which it does not hold but which is available commercially elsewhere.

BIS is also not required to release information which will shortly be published if, in the department’s views, the public interest in disclosing the information is outweighed by the public interest considerations in favour of withholding the information.

Having considered the information provided in the response and in the light of your request for an internal review, I have concluded that the response met the requirements of the Act.

We shall be taking the matter to the Information Commissioner, and hope to get some engagement there.

Gerald Warner: Cultural Marxism is colonising Western boardrooms

An interesting piece by Gerald Warner for The Conservative Woman website. My only quibble would be with the title, presumably not chose by Warner himself. Cultural Marxism colonised Western boardrooms years ago. We need only observe the craven capitulation of FTSE100 companies to the government’s demands for more women on their boards, following the Davies Report (2011), for evidence of that fact.

A harrowing (and hilarious) tale of an all-female workplace

6oodfella is a Scotsman, and one of my favourite audio and video bloggers. At times he’s had me in tears, laughing. A post we’ve just published – about women in male-dominated workplaces – started me thinking about pieces we’ve published about female-dominated workplaces. About 18 months ago 6oodfella posted an audio commentary on a newspaper article written by Samantha Brick, who’d started a TV production company with a policy of hiring only women. What could possibly go wrong? Enjoy.

Male-dominated workplaces ‘can make women ill’: Social problems from being the ‘token’ female can deregulate body’s response to stress

Give me strength. From the article:

Previous findings have shown that working in male-dominated places can cause social isolation for women. It has also been linked with performance pressures, sexual harassment, and obstacles to professional mobility.

Women also report experiencing moments of both high visibility and apparent invisibility, as well as doubts about their competence.

‘… can cause social isolation for women.’ Hold on, are we talking about working environments here, or places to go for a chat with other women?

‘Women also report experiencing moments of both high visibility and apparent invisibility…’. Why, those heartless patriarchs! In some moments paying women their full attention, in other moments paying them no attention. Have they not read the Patriarchy Council guidance note 2015/781, ‘Female colleagues: How to ensure they’re never made to feel uncomfortable’?

Some sanity in the comments section, from a woman:

Rubbish! I’ve worked in all female offices and hated it. Currently in an all male team and love it. I’m not a token woman and never been made to feel that either. I’m happy and productive and less stressed than I’ve ever been. Stop the man bashing!!

A man responded to her comment:

Thank you. I can safely say that the women who work with me feel the same, we all just do our jobs. The annoying thing is, I’ve not witnessed sexism in the workplace ever, but I guess it must be rife if it’s always in the papers.

Our public challenge of Ian Symes, General Manager, Right Management (UK & Ireland)

Right Management is a division of an American multinational, ManpowerGroup, dealing with executive recruitment. Ian Symes is the General Manager of Right Management (UK & Ireland). We’re about to send him our latest public challenge.

Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute, wins a ‘Lying Feminist of the Month’ award

Ann Francke is the CEO of the Chartered Management Institute, which has increasingly become a feminist campaigning organization under her leadership.

Our thanks to Ian for pointing us to a newspaper story concerning a CMI report about the gender pay gap among managers. Ms Francke is quote as saying:

Working for free two hours a day is unacceptable. While some progress is being made, it’s clear from our research that Lord Davies is right to target the executive pipeline. Having more women in senior executive roles will pave the way for others and ensure they’re paid the same as their male colleagues at every stage of their careers.

No mention is made in the newspaper report (or in the feature on the matter on the CMI website) of gender-typical differences in areas such as the following, which could account for most if not all of the observed gender pay gap:

  • work ethic. Dr Catherine Hakim, a world-renowned sociologist, reported in 2000 that four in seven British men are work-centred, but only one in seven British women is. Details here
  • relating to the above point, the relative likelihood of women (compared with men) to work only part-time
  • professional discipline e.g. managerial positions in Finance tend to pay more than in Human Resources, because the supply/demand position tends to be more difficult for Finance positions
  • degree of experience and expertise, which correlates with age. The report admits, ‘The research showed there were fewer older women in executive positions.’
  • sector – public or private? Two thirds of private sector employees are men, two-thirds of public sector employees are women
  • firm size
  • firm market sector
  • individual scope of responsibility e.g. a ‘manager’ may have responsibility for one member of staff or 500, an annual budget of £1 million or £500 million…
  • job characteristics leading to higher pay e.g. extended periods spent away from home, unsocial hours, unpleasant and/or dangerous working conditions, in dangerous countries…

And so it is that Ann Francke is the latest in a series of feminists to win a Lying Feminist of the Month award following comments made about the gender pay gap. Her award certificate is here. The full list of award winners is here.

J4MB demands an internal review by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, of the department’s response to FoI inquiries

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.

The government will force companies to inflate women’s earnings and deflate men’s earnings

We recommend to anyone foolish enough to believe the feminist gender pay gap narrative, that they read a blog piece by William Collins – Gender Income Propaganda.

We have some key advisers who were of the view that the feminist-friendly agendas of the 2010-15 coalition were attributable (in part, at least) to the influence of the Lib Dems. I never believed that analysis. David Cameron made his pro-feminist / anti-male leanings perfectly clear before coming to power, most notably by announcing his intention in the autumn of 2009 to introduce all-women shortlists for prospective parliamentary candidates. Along with many other members I cancelled my party membership that day, and the proposal was dropped following uproar among Conservative MPs and other party supporters.

Following the government’s ‘success’ in bullying FTSE100 companies (through the threat of legislated gender quotas) into ‘voluntarily’ achieving 25% female representation on their boards – the figure is an average over all the companies – the government is going to extend its anti-male and anti-business agenda, by bullying companies with 250 employees or more into calculating and then publishing the gap between male average earnings and female average earnings. Today’s Daily Mail report on the matter is here. You would search in vain for criticisms of the initiative from the paper itself, even in the four-page-long business section. The rules are expected to come into force by the end of 2015.

The most intelligent contribution to the article was this:

Last night Len Shackleton, research fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: ‘The current Government shows no more understanding of the gender pay gap than its predecessors.

The gap is not caused primarily, if at all, by discrimination – but largely by career choices and family decisions.

The reality is that the measures announced by the Government will do little to reduce the gender pay gap – and in the case of the National Living Wage, may actually cause higher unemployment among women. They will however add to the burdens imposed on firms by this allegedly pro-business government.’

This is yet another feminist-inspired initiative which goes even further than the Labour party went in its last administrations (1997-2010). Both of our major political parties are dancing relentlessly to the feminists’ tunes.

In my 30 years in the business sector I recruited, managed, and promoted many people. Frequently people with the same job titles had different salaries, because of the different contributions they delivered, or the difficulty or ease with which roles in different specialisms could be filled.

The outcomes of the new rules are all too predictable. We’ll have the ‘equal pay for work of equal value’ farce, in which the factors that disincline women from particular jobs (risk, unpleasant working conditions, unsociable hours…) will be disregarded, so women’s earnings will be inflated to match those of men who are prepared to accept those factors.

We’ll have vexatious claims from women maintaining their contributions are as important as those of their male colleagues, regardless of the truth or otherwise of the claims. Wary of negative publicity, firms will settle out of court.

None of this will be accompanied by increased sales of the companies’ goods and services, of course, so the only way for firms to compensate for the increased earnings of women – without reducing profitability – will be to deflate the earnings of male employees.

An extract from the Daily Mail article, written by Daniel Martin, Chief Political Correspondent:

Writing in The Times, he (David Cameron) said: ‘Today I’m announcing a really big move. We will make every single company with 250 employees or more publish the gap between average female earnings and average male earnings. This will cast sunlight on the discrepancies and create the pressure we need for change, driving women’s wages up.

Higher pay is something we want for everyone. That is why the Chancellor announced the National Living Wage, which starts next April at £7.20 and will reach over £9 by 2020. This will primarily help women, who tend to be in lower paid jobs.

It will help close the gender pay gap. But we need to go further, and that’s why introducing gender pay audits is so important.’

David Cameron was the winner of our ‘Toady of the Year’ awards four years in succession – 2012/3/4/5. Details of all the awards are here. With this new initiative, Dave’s made a strong bid to win the award next year too.

Chris Blackhurst, former Editor of The Independent, is presented with our Toady award

Three weeks ago we publicly challenged Chris Blackhurst in connection with an article he wrote for the Evening Standard, in which he urged Sajid Javid MP, Business Secretary, to pressure FTSE100 companies into ensuring that 25% of their executive directors were women, within three years. We gave him until 5pm yesterday to respond, and – predictably – he didn’t. Details of the challenge are on his award certificate.


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