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Lying Feminist of the Month – Samantha Beckett, Director General, Economics & Markets (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills)

This is the first time we’ve presented this award to a senior civil servant. Ms Beckett’s award certificate, with details on why she’s won the award, is here.

A snake and Francesca Lagerberg walk into a bar…

Enjoy.

Inspired by the story in Accountancy Age, and following Ms Lagerberg winning her Gormless Feminist of the Month award, we may present her shortly with this award

Grant Thornton’s feminist propaganda piece: ‘Women in Business – the value of diversity’

Over the past four years I’ve read many reports purporting to show (or implying) a causal link between increased female representation on boards, and enhanced financial performance. All the widely-cited ones of which I’m aware (McKinsey, Credit Suisse, Reuters Thomson, Catalyst…) have had a line or two in the fine print, explaining that the reported correlation doesn’t indicate causation, and (in the more honest reports) that it can’t be taken to even imply causation.

Following our award of a Gormless Feminist of the Month award to Grant Thornton’s Francesca Lagerberg yesterday, we’ve track down the Grant Thornton report she was citing in her BBC radio interview yesterday – Women in Business: the value of diversity. It starts with these words by Ms Lagerberg:

Renewable energy and board diversity: two very different but topical issues with shared challenges. People generally accept that the world needs to move away from fossil fuels; that we can’t go on as we are; that collectively it’s our duty to make progress and clean up our act.

However, unknowns over performance remain: can we rely on renewables when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow? Upfront costs are higher, so how long will it take for the savings to feed through? In the same way, we know there is a moral imperative to get more women on the boards of companies [Note – we KNOW there is a moral imperative?] – that the status quo is the product of a bygone era.

But what about financial performance? Do companies with diverse boards really perform better than those run purely by men, which currently dominate the corporate landscape? The answer is yes: they perform better. Materially better.

It is quite the most woeful report on this topic I’ve ever seen from a major organization, and while a causal link is clearly implied throughout the report, the casual reader could be forgiven for failing to notice that no causal link has been demonstrated, and the lack of a causal link has not been indicated. It is a shameless feminist propaganda piece, nothing more. Grant Thornton need to recognize it as such, and fast, before the company becomes a laughing stock.

Gormless Feminist of the Month: Francesca Lagerberg, Global Leader – Tax Services, Grant Thornton International

A deserving winner.

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.

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