Four blithering idiots who champion female executives

Earlier this afternoon I received an email with a government press release. I’ve taken a few comments from some of the people mentioned in it.

Idiot #1

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

The employment rate for women has never been higher and there are now more women on FTSE boards than ever before. But we need to go further, particularly when it comes to paving the way to the executive level. Companies cannot afford to miss out on the skills and talent of the whole population if the UK is going to compete in a fast-moving global economy. This is not just about diversity for diversity’s sake, but about improving performance and productivity. [My emphasis.]

It surely doesn’t need stating again, does it, that no evidence exists of a causal link between increasing the proportion of women on boards, and financial performance improvement? The only causal link we’re aware of – from longitudinal studies – is with financial performance decline.

For the past four years Campaign for Merit in Business has been challenging the government and in particular Javid’s department – DBIS – to provide evidence for the causal link he and others keep implying. No evidence has ever been provided for the link, and Samantha Beckett, a senior civil servant in the department, recently won a ‘Lying Feminist of the Month’ award over the issue – here.

Idiot #2

Women and Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan said:

Having more women on FTSE boards allows companies to benefit from the enormous wealth of talent these women offer, and means these women can act as powerful role models for the next generation of girls.

We have come a long way but we must do more to make sure women everywhere are able to fulfil their potential. I want to see an end to all male boards anywhere on the FTSE 350, and much more progress at the executive layer where we know progress has been slowest to date. [My emphasis.]

Progress has been slowest to date in that area, because companies still appoint into the executive layer on the basis of merit, and one element of merit is a strong work ethic. Dr Catherine Hakim’s Preference Theory (2000) perfectly explains why ‘progress has been slowest to date’ in this area.

Idiot #3

Sir Philip Hampton said:

I am delighted to take on Lord Davies’s great work [bullying FTSE100 companies into ‘voluntarily’ appointing more women to their boards, with the threat of legislated gender quotas] around Women on Boards and I want to now turn my attention to the FTSE 350. I will focus on improving representation in the executive layer of companies, as well as maintaining the momentum on boards. This means looking at the talent pipeline for female executives and emerging non-executive directors to ensure we create opportunities and the right conditions for women to succeed. [What would those ‘right conditions’ be, other than yet more anti-male discrimination?]

Idiot #4

Corporate Governance Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe, said:

As a former director of several companies, I know that business needs to do more to ensure that female talent is harnessed and not wasted. Encouraging progress has been made, but we now need to focus on the talent pipeline of capable women to ensure they can see a viable way ahead into leadership positions.

This will ultimately make companies more innovative and more competitive; a leadership team made up of men and women better represents the employee and customer base giving firms an edge in the products and services they offer. [My emphasis.]

A leadership team made up of men and women with a wide spectrum of IQs would also ‘better represent the employee and customer base’, so would logically also ‘give firms an edge in the products and services they offer’, given this line of thinking. It’s outrageous, how few genuinely stupid people there are on FTSE350 boards. These people are, however, severely over-represented in initiatives aimed at advantaging women over men in the workplace and elsewhere.

Will the mainstream media never expose these people such as the four I’ve highlighted, for their demonstrably idiotic statements?

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Louisa Symington-Mills (Telegraph Women) should be utterly ashamed of herself

Our thanks to Mike for this. Louisa Symington-Mills answers questions on work and business for Telegraph Women. A woman sent in the following question:

Last week, I found out that I’d achieved my dream promotion – one I’d been pursuing for ages. But then someone at work told me that I’d only got it because I’m female, and my company was just trying to reach a diversity target. I’m absolutely gutted – and to make things worse, apparently this is common knowledge. I feel like a complete fraud – what should I do?

Ms Symington-Mills’s utterly shameless response includes these gems, I’ve added a few comments:

Gender diversity targets are now a reality for many businesses, and – I’m sorry to say this in view of your personal experience – rightly so. Doing nothing isn’t an option. [It IS an option, and a damned sensible one, too.]

We’re in 2016, and the number of women on the boards of the largest 250 companies floated on the UK stock market still stands at less than 20 per cent. [Given the causal link between increasing female representation on boards and corporate financial performance decline, it would be utter madness to increase the proportion of women even further. So that’s precisely what the government is bullying major companies to do. FTSE350 companies are being bullied to ‘voluntarily’ reach a target of one-third of their board directors being female by 2020, under the threat of gender quotas legislation, if they don’t meet the target.]

Encouraging [bullying] companies to seek better a gender balance voluntarily [voluntarily – hahahahahahahaha!!! ‘Hand me over your wallet voluntarily, or I’ll knife you in the stomach. Thank you, very kind!’] across all levels of their organisation, [other than the lowest levels, obviously] using targets, should in theory be the most sustainable way to reach the ultimate goal of gender parity at work… [even though the ultimate goal is feminist-inspired and therefore, by definition, STOOOOOOOOOPID.]

Even if the fact that you’re a woman became relevant to the assessor making the promotion decision, that doesn’t automatically mean that your performance, skills and business contribution weren’t relevant… [Not ‘relevant’? Could the bar to female advancement in the workplace be any lower?]

Even if your gender was indeed relevant to the promotion, I cannot imagine why anyone in possession of such a fact would feel compelled to share it with you, or indeed anyone else, if they were filled only with good intentions. [‘Your employer should delude you as to your abilities, and pretend you got the promotion on merit. Then you’ll feel less anxious, won’t you? That’s far more important than gaining self-knowledge, and building competence and resilience.’]

If this is a deliberate attempt on the part of the person that shared this information to derail you as you move onwards and upwards, don’t let that happen. Even if your initial assumption, that you’re a victim of tokenism, is correct – and I think it’s unlikely you’ll ever know for sure either way – you need to find a way to move on and banish the doubt.

So my advice to you is quite straightforward to write, but hard to implement: you need to dispel this comment from your mind, and own the promotion you fought for and have achieved. [‘You need to ignore the stark reality that you got a promotion rather than the man who deserved it more than you, on the sole grounds that he has a penis, and you have a vagina. What could be wrong with that? Now run along, you silly thing!’]

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Lying Feminist of the Month – Jane Humphries, Professor of Economic History, University of Oxford

This month’s Lying Feminist of the Month award has been presented to Jane Humphries, Professor of Economic History at the University of Oxford, for a ridiculous assertion on the Today programme about the ‘glass ceiling’. Her certificate, with details of why she deserved the award, is here.

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Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, wins a Toady award

One of our most valued sources of leads is Chloe, who happens to be a member of CIPD. She alerted me to a piece published on the CIPD website yesterday, which has resulted in Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, winning a Toady award. His certificate, explaining why he’s won the award, is here. Well deserved.

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Carolyn Fairbairn, director general, CBI: Whiny Feminist of the Month

Well deserved.

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The final ridiculous report of The Davies Review

It has long been known – from longitudinal studies – that there exists a causal link between increasing the proportion of women on corporate boards, and financial decline. In 2012 we published a briefing paper with links to five longitudinal studies, all demonstrating the causal link.

To the best of my knowledge, there exists no evidence (from longitudinal studies) of a causal link between increasing gender diversity on boards, and enhanced financial performance. C4MB has challenged many individuals and organizations to provide evidence of the causal link they imply – the list of those challenges is here – and no evidence has ever been forthcoming. In plain English:

There is no business case for increasing the proportion of women on boards.

Lord Davies of Abersoch, a Labour peer, was appointed by David Cameron soon after the Conservative / Lib Dem coalition came to power in May 2010. He was charged with making recommendations on how to increase the proportion of women on major corporate boards, and the report following his review – Women on boards – was published in February 2011.

To get a sense of the ideological driver behind the report, we need only look at the Executive Summary on p.3, where the following claim is made:

…gender-diverse boards have a positive impact on performance.(2)

Reference (2) is at the bottom of the same page, but no material is cited. It was clearly taken as a ‘given’ that the statement was true, yet no evidence could be found to substantiate it. In general in this report, as in almost all reports arguing for more women on boards, correlation (between gender diversity on boards, and enhanced financial performance) is presented as evidence of causation, when it doesn’t even imply it.

One recommendation in the Davies report – accepted by the government – was that if FTSE100 companies hadn’t ‘voluntarily’ increased the proportion of female directors on their boards (12.5% in 2011) to 25% by 2015, the government should consider introducing legislated gender quotas, forcing them to do so. The FTSE100 capitulated to this threat without a murmur, and now 26.1% of FTSE100 directors are women. 260 of the current 286 female FTSE100 directors – 91% – are non-executive directors.

The government has just published the final report of the Davies Review, ‘Improving the gender balance of British boards’ – here. With the departure of Lord Davies, a new steering group has yet to be set. The Evening Standard reported the following two days ago:

Cabinet Minister Nicky Morgan today backed a new target to boost the number of women in top company boardrooms after a report revealed slow progress in promoting them into key decision-making jobs.

The equalities minister told the Standard that success increasing the overall number of female directors on FTSE100 boards proved setting voluntary targets ‘concentrates minds’. [No, you silly woman, threatening legislated gender quotas ‘concentrates minds’.]

But with new data showing the vast majority of the female directors are non-executives, Ms Morgan added the focus was now on getting women into powerful executive roles now dominated by men.

She also said ministers would set up a new steering group to continue the equality drive and that ‘kick-ass’ Apprentice star Karren Brady was in a strong position to lead it.

The final Davies report is 60 pages long, and I won’t trouble you with a detailed analysis. It is significant that nowhere in the report is there a claim that increasing female representation on boards leads to enhanced corporate financial performance.

We can be very sure that C4MB has had an influence on the narratives employed in this ideologically-driven report, because we’ve challenged politicians, civil servants, and others over the past four years. In 2012, on behalf of C4MB, I gave evidence to House of Commons and House of Lords inquiries, the video of my House of Commons appearance is here.

On p.7 of the final Davies Review report:

Businesses needs (sic) to continue efforts to increase women’s representation further and more women should now be progressing to Chair and Senior Independent Director appointments, with increasing numbers of women appointed to Executive Director positions.

Exactly why businesses ‘need’ to do that is unclear. The evidence from longitudinal studies clearly proves businesses need to NOT do that. From the recommendations on p.7:

Increased Target, More Chairs and Action from All Listed Companies

Increasing the voluntary target for women’s representation on Boards of FTSE 350 companies, to a minimum of 33% to be achieved in the next five years.

All stakeholders to work together to ensure increasing numbers of women are appointed to the roles of Chair, Senior Independent Director and into Executive Director positions on Boards of FTSE 350 companies.

All FTSE Listed companies now assess the gender balance on their Boards and take prompt action to address any shortfall.

In 2011, 9.5% of FTSE350 board directors were women, today the figure is 21.9%. The demand is for 33% by 2020, and it won’t stop there, we can be very sure. A government adviser is on record as saying that the longer-term target is gender parity on FTSE350 boards. From p.9, a ludicrous pretence that there exists a business case for appointing more women to boards:

Compelling Business Case versus Equalities issue

From the very beginning we addressed the lack of gender diversity on British Boards as a key business issue, at a time when it was still being narrowly boxed by many as an equalities, diversity or women’s issue.

We worked up the business case for change and spoke language business understands. The value-add of diverse perspectives, the economic arguments on talent management and the modernising of British business. We spoke of global credibility, impact to reputation, the longer-term stability of our economy and the UK’s competitive position on the global stage.

The business case is even stronger today as Chairs report on the positive impact women are having at the top table, the changing nature of the discussion, level of challenge and improved all round performance of the Board.

On p.10:

The UK is a leader and role model on the international stage for having made such good progress under an entirely voluntary regime.

The claim of an ‘entirely voluntary regime’ is ridiculous, for reasons I’ve already stated. On p.18:

We anticipated that increasing the number of women Executive Directors would be the longer term challenge, as these are the highest ranking and often highest paid roles in any FTSE company. [my emphasis]

However, going forward we should expect to see more women move into senior most ranks as we are now five years into the journey.

The text I have emphasised perfectly illustrates the mindset of the people behind this report. They cannot admit publicly that the ‘longer term challenge’ results from very few women being well-qualified for FTSE100 executive directorships – compared with the number of well-qualified men – so they have to draw on a conspiracy theory, the ‘glass ceiling’, to explain it. They’re saying men are declining to give women executive directorships as these would confer high rank and high pay.

Appendices B-D (pp. 35-56) consist of ‘Performance Rankings’ for FTSE100, FTSE250, and FTSE350 companies. What ‘performance’ is being ranked, you might reasonably ask? Financial performance? No. Simply the proportion of women on corporate boards, the only performance that matters to the authors of this report.

Appendix F (p. 58,59) is on ‘Key Research and Further Reading’. It contains no references to the studies which show conclusively that driving up female representation on boards leads to financial decline.

And so it is that we say goodbye to Lord Davies of Abersoch, hopefully forever. But not before we post again a link to an award presented to him by the Anti-Feminism League in March 2012, shortly before C4MB was launched. Enjoy.

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Lord Davies of Abersoch is a blithering idiot

Our thanks to Mike for this. From the article, a reference to correlation, leaving the reader to erroneously imply causation, although it’s been known for years that the only causal link between higher female representation on corporate boards and financial performance is a negative one:

Lord Davies rejected suggestions that companies were ‘padding’ boards with female non-executives for public relations purposes, insisting the women appointees were qualified for their posts.

‘It’s about business results,’ he said. ‘The more diverse the group is at the top of the company, the better the results.’

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