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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.

Our public challenge of Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

From time to time people ask why we don’t seek to engage with government ministers privately, rather than issuing public challenges. The fact is we have sought to engage with ministers on numerous occasions since the establishment of Campaign for Merit in Business in 2012.

More than four weeks ago I wrote to Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, requesting a private and confidential meeting in relation to the government’s continuing threats of legislated gender quotas for FTSE100 companies. I haven’t received even an acknowledgement of that letter, nor of an email I sent to his department earlier this week.

Today we shall mail a public challenge to Mr Javid, in the form of a Freedom of Information request. Under the law, responses to FoI requests have to be made within 20 working days. My original letter to Mr Javid is in the same file.

Our public challenge of Chris Blackhurst (Evening Standard)

This challenge relates to the drive to increase female representation on major corporate boards. I thought it might be timely to explain why we cover this topic so frequently given – as people sometimes point out – it would appear to affect relatively few men, and well-off men at that. There are a number of reasons:

1. There is clear evidence (from longitudinal studies) that increasing female representation on boards leads to corporate financial decline. This is only to be expected. Far fewer women than men have the work ethic and professional experience and expertise for major corporate board positions, so to increase female representation better-qualified men have to be sidelined.

2. Given the opportunity, women’s in-class preferences will lead them to appoint and promote women in preference to better-qualified men. This phenomenon was well described in Steve Moxon’s The Woman Racket (2008).

3. Campaign for Merit in Business remains, to the best of my knowledge, the only organisation in the world campaigning on this issue, and we’re not in the habit of dropping initiatives we believe to be important.

4. My experience as a business executive over 30 years (1979-2010), much of it in business consultancy roles, told me that feminist narratives on the ‘glass ceiling’ and the ‘gender pay gap’ were ludicrous. My book The Glass Ceiling Delusion: the real reasons more women don’t reach senior positions was published in 2011, at a time my understanding of feminism was a fraction of what it is today. It’s still available to buy on Amazon and elsewhere.

5. The government continues to press FTSE100 companies to appoint more women to their boards, despite having been presented with the evidence of the likely impact on corporate financial performance by me in House of Commons and House of Lords inquiries in 2012.

6. The government’s bullying of companies is profoundly anti-meritocratic and therefore unConservative.

7. The government has a longer-term goal of gender parity on FTSE350 boards. This will require a tenfold preferencing of women over men. Put another way, for every 10 women appointed in a bid for gender parity, nine of them could be replaced by better-qualified men (probably many better-qualified men).

8. The capitulation of major businesses to these initiatives embarrasses me, as a former business executive. Perhaps driven by chivalry, some businessmen may have believed the relentless stream of propaganda about increasing female representation on boards being good for corporate performance. But I doubt that businessmen as a class have suddenly become less intelligent than they were formerly, and I think there’s a more troubling explanation for their lack of resistance. To the best of my knowledge, not one FTSE350 executive has raised any objections publicly, and organisations such as the CBI have long been keen on increasing female representation on boards. Our suspicion is there’s a Faustian pact going on here. FTSE100 companies aren’t raising objections, in return for the government’s private assurances that ever-smaller companies will be affected over time. Smaller companies will be disproportionately badly affected than larger ones, so FTSE100 companies support the government’s anti-competitive policy direction.

9. Big businesses share with the government a wish to see ever more women in paid employment, which has a deflationary impact on salaries, and leads to increased demand for goods and services as well as higher tax revenues for the government.

This brings us to an article written by Chris Blackhurst and published by the Evening Standard last Thursday. Astonishingly, he’s calling for the government’s target for FTSE100 companies of 25% female representation on their boards by the end of this year – the proportion reached 24.6% on 14 May – to be replaced by a 25% target for executive directors (mainly chief executives and finance directors).

Last Friday we sent Chris Blackhurst a public challenge. If he doesn’t respond by June 24, or his response is deemed inadequate by the Awards Committee – which is due to meet the next day – he’ll become a Toady award winner.

Our public challenge of John Timpson, Chairman, Timpson Group plc

For the past 30 years John Timpson has been Chairman of Timpson Group plc, a retailer with over 1,300 branches in the UK. The company has five directors on its board, none of whom are women. He has a small column in the Daily Telegraph, ‘Ask John’, which I happened to catch today. In it was a piece titled In 50 years, the women on boards debate will be over.

The piece is woeful on a number of levels. We’ve penned a public challenge of John Timpson, which I expect to lead to us presenting him with a Toady award on 25 June.

Our public challenge of Mark Carney, Governor, Bank of England

We’ve just posted a public challenge of Mark Carney on the J4MB website – here.

Is Ruth Sunderland (Daily Mail journalist) willing to engage with evidence showing that placing more women on corporate boards leads to financial decline?

[Note added 2.8.14: Ruth Sunderland has been on holiday, but I see from an article in today’s Daily Mail that she’s now back at work. I’ll email her a link to this piece and ask her if she’s now willing to engage with the evidence we presented to her.]

[Note added 2.7.14: I’m pleased to say Ruth Sunderland has asked for materials supporting our position, and I’ve just emailed some to her.]

Ruth Sunderland is a business journalist with the Daily Mail, one of many journalists who relentlessly peddle the idea that having more women on boards is ‘a good thing’ and refuse to engage with the evidence which shows that driving up female representation on boards leads to corporate financial decline, a matter covered exhaustively on this website. Our briefing paper with the Abstracts of five longitudinal studies is here.

I’ve posted and commented on one or two of Ms Sunderland’s articles before. My thanks to Jeff for pointing me to her recent article on Glencore’s appointment of its first female director. It contains a gem of a sentence, and I’ll comment on its two constituent parts:

There is no hard evidence that having women on the board causes better performance…

Almost correct. If you remove the word ‘hard’ these words are true, but still misleading. As our briefing paper shows, placing more women on boards leads to declines in corporate financial performance. Onto the second part of the sentence:

…but there is a strong correlation.

Ms Sunderland is clearly leading us to believe this correlation is of significance in supporting the promotion of more women onto boards. In all the reports we’ve analysed – including those from the feminist campaign group Catalyst, to which Ms Sunderland refers – it’s made crystal clear that correlation isn’t evidence of causation, and can’t even be taken to imply it.

I think we could agree there’s a correlation between how much wealth men have (or are expected to have one day) and the attractiveness of the women they marry – but we don’t say that attractive women make men wealthier, do we?

Yesterday I called the Daily Mail and left a message on Ms Sunderland’s answerphone, explain I head up J4MB and C4MB, and outlined why I’d appreciate a phone discussion. Not having heard from her, I left a second message this morning. She called back about half an hour ago, but unfortunately I didn’t have my mobile with me at the time. She left the following message:

I very much doubt whether either I will convince you or you will convince me (laughs). This is not a subject I’ve just hit upon and not given any thought to. I’ve done a lot of reading, a lot of discussion, and a lot of thinking about it, and I very much doubt given the organisation you come from (laughs) and the fact you seem to think women perform worse than men, we would really move the situation much further on, so personally I think we would be better off just to agree to differ.

I called back and left another message on her answerphone, explaining this isn’t an issue on which we could ‘agree to differ’, because the evidence base shows her convictions to be demonstrably false. I asked for her email address to present that evidence, and sent it to her. I’ll update this blog piece if she responds.


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