August Lovenskiolds: ‘Women hate being CEOs – and they suck at it’

A tip of the hat to August Lovenskiolds for his illuminating analysis. The bottom line:

In 2012, 20 S&P 500 companies had female CEOs.

By 2017, 10 of the women were no longer CEOs.

By 2017, all the female CEO’s companies had fallen in the S&P rankings.

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White men ‘endangered species’ in top business roles as women promoted to senior positions – Tesco chairman

Our thanks to Sean for this. Extracts:

Speaking at the Retail Week Live conference on Thursday, he (John Allan, Tesco chairman) said: “If you are female and from an ethnic background and preferably both then you are in an extremely propitious period.

“For a thousand years men have got most of these jobs, the pendulum has swung very significantly the other way now and will do for the foreseeable future I think.

“If you are a white male – tough – you are an endangered species and you are going to have to work twice as hard.”

These days I’m embarrassed to admit I spent my 30-year career as a business executive, such is the idiocy and complicity of the senior executives in FTSE350 companies and elsewhere who’ve enthusiastically embraced feminist demands for more women on boards.

Regular followers of this blog will surely need no reminding of the evidence (five longitudinal studies) compiled in 2012 by Campaign for Merit in Business demonstrating a clear causal link between increasing female representation on boards, and corporate financial decline. That evidence has never been challenged by proponents of ‘more women on boards’.

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Aviva plc: ‘Promote women or else’

Since 2012 this blog has been pointing to the strong evidence of a causal link between increasing female representation on corporate boards, and financial decline.

The private sector continues to accede to demands for more women on boards, and the government is known to be seeking gender parity on FTSE350 boards, threatening gender quota legislation if necessary – a tactic hailing back to the 2011 Davies Report, which resulted in the proportion of women on FTSE100 boards doubling from 12.5% in 2011, to 25% by 2015. Virtually all the female directors appointed over those four years shared something in common with the existing women on FTSE100 boards, being appointed as non-executive directors.

Much of the drive for more women on boards comes from manipulative ideologically-driven sexist women in senior positions. A case in point. Aviva plc is a British multinational insurance company headquartered in London. It has around 33 million customers across 16 countries.

Aviva has 13 people on its board, including three women, all of whom are non-executive directors. Shockingly, both the chairman and the senior non-executive director are grey-haired white men.

It gets worse. All the board members are white. If a board with few female directors (or none) is evidence of the ‘glass ceiling’ (i.e. anti-female sexism) – as proponents for ‘more women on boards’ claim, or imply – then (by the same logic) an all-white board must be evidence of racism. The company should be ashamed of itself. Customers and shareholders should desert it in droves.

From yesterday’s Sunday Times, a short piece by Aimee Donnellan titled, “Aviva: ‘Promote women or else'”:

Aviva has threatened to terminate contracts with suppliers that fail to promote women to senior roles.

Sarah Morris, human resources boss at the insurer, has issued the warning to more than a dozen subcontractors – thought to include recruitment firms, catering suppliers and specialist providers of insurance services.

In a letter, she stated that the company’s suppliers were “critically placed to drive the change that is needed in future talent pipelines” and that “publicly backing” women’s initiatives would give them a “competitive edge”.

The warning was aimed at suppliers that had failed to sign up to gender equality initiatives such as the 30% Club campaign and the Women in Finance charter drawn up by Virgin Money boss Jayne-Anne Gadhia.

Morris told The Sunday Times that Aviva had had some positive responses to the letter, [hopefully some responses told her to stick her letter where the sun doesn’t shine] which was sent two months ago, but the insurer would be “willing to consider ending our ongoing relationship if our partner firms don’t share our values on this”.

Morris is on the steering committee of the 30% Club, which wants FTSE companies to ensure one third of directors are women.

Her warning was sent with the blessing of Aviva chief executive Mark Wilson. The insurer was the first British company to pledge women would comprise 30% of its executive committee by 2020.

Sarah Morris, the Chief People Officer – personnel manager – sits on the (all-white) Group executive committee. The associated web page also has the manipulative harridan’s photograph:

Mark Wilson, the blithering idiot at the head of the company, is pictured here:

Mark Wilson

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Monique Svazlian Tallon (Monique Tallon) is a blithering idiot

One of the supporters to whom I owe the most is Jeff, who has been relentlessly encouraging since before the launch of Campaign for Merit in Business in early 2012, almost five years ago, a year before the launch of J4MB.

Jeff is a terrific source of leads to articles, and recently sent me a link to a short opinion piece by Monique Svazlian Tallon, titled, “Four Reasons Why We’re Still Talking About Diversity on Boards”. Jeff writes:

I have not read anything more infantile and ridiculous about gender diversity on boards than this diatribe, Mike. The sense of entitlement from this woman is overwhelming……I do hope you have the time to respond to her.

An extract from the piece should help you grasp what a blithering idiot the woman is:

The business case for having more women on boards is clear. It has been shown that when there are two or more women on a board of directors, the organisation performs better on it’s ROI by 66%. If any other investment opportunity presented this kind of potential gain, businesses would have jumped. But they haven’t. Some say it’s due to a lack of understanding of the business imperative, others point to a pipeline issue or a lack of mentoring.

The daft woman clearly believes that the appointment of two women to a corporate board will increase ROI by 66%. She evidently considers this a causal link – ‘If any other investment opportunity…’ – rather than correlation, the latter not providing any justification for increasing female representation on boards. The causal link is more likely the opposite to the one she assumes – more financially successful companies can better afford to indulge in social engineering initiatives e.g. increasing the proportion of female directors on their boards.

The evidence from major longitudinal studies could not be clearer. Increasing female representation on corporate boards leads to corporate financial decline.

More idiocy:

… male performance is over-estimated compared to that of women. Because women are held to stricter and higher standards, the odds of them progressing are lower.

More:

When men and women perform an act, men are given credit more often while women are judged more harshly.

More:

There is a general belief that women cannot be both good mothers and good performers, therefore women with children are less likely to be hired and promoted.

More:

Women have the unique challenge of having to choose between being seen as competent or being liked, walking a tightrope between being too nice or being assertive, which often puts them in a double bind.

Monique Svazlian Tallon is an American, she unfortunately moved to Europe in 2009 after forming Highest Path. She  is just one of countless ideologically-driven parasites (many of them are men) making a living out of developing and executing gender / diversity / blah blah blah initiatives in major companies. Her company’s strapline reads, ‘Developing 21st Century Leaders”. It should, more accurately, read, ‘Developing 21st Century Leaders With Vaginas’.

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Blithering idiots at 100+ organizations in the financial services sector are colluding with blithering idiots at HM Treasury to harm the financial services sector

A few weeks ago I sent a written submission to the DBIS inquiry into corporate governance, in relation to gender diversity on corporate boards. Followers of this blog and that of the associated Campaign for Merit in Business will need no reminding of the evidence of a causal link between increasing female representation on boards, and corporate financial decline.

That evidence has never been refuted by anyone to whom we’ve presented it, whether in government, business, academia, journalism, or elsewhere. Equally, nobody has ever provided us with evidence of  a causal link between increasing female representation on boards, and corporate financial improvement (the alleged ‘business case’ for this ideologically-driven initiative).

Not having been invited by the DBIS inquiry to give oral evidence, during which I would have shown the government’s policy (since 2011) to be damaging to companies – bullying them into appointing more women onto their boards, with the threat of legislated gender quotas if they don’t do so ‘voluntarily’ – as I did at a previous DBIS inquiry, in November 2012, video here (56:50).

I wrote to Richard Fuller, who sits on the committee, asking to be given the opportunity. He didn’t respond. I wasn’t surprised. When I last met him, I explained that evidence (from longitudinal studies) showed a causal link between increasing female representation on corporate boards, and corporate financial decline. He stated (whilst glancing nervously at a young female apparatchik, who was taking notes) that the assertion was ‘impossible’. It took some time to persuade him to accept the hard copies of the evidence, which I’d brought with me. I assume he threw it in the bin after my departure.

My thanks to the indefatigable Jeff for emailing me the following today:

HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter: a pledge for gender balance across financial services

Women in Finance Charter list of signatories (100+ signatories)

Quotes from Women in Finance Charter signatories (59 signatories)

A typical statement from one of the 59 organisations:

Lynne Atkin, HR Director, Barclays UK and Barclaycard, said:

Barclays is proud to support the launch of the Women in Finance Charter, and will continue to play a leading role in supporting greater progress for senior women in our industry.

Every part of our business is contributing to this agenda, we’ve supported the Davies commission and set out own targets for senior female representation at Managing Director. (sic)

A turgid report by three women:

HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter – Leading the Way

The start of the report’s Introduction:

What this report is about

Gender balance in UK financial services has leapt up the agenda since the government asked Jayne-Anne Gadha, Chief Executive of Virgin Money, to lead a review of women in senior management, and launched the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter in March 2016.

On the front page the Charter is described as being run ‘in collaboration with HM Treasury’ and is ‘supported by Virgin Money’.

I no longer feel inclined to devote any more time and energy to this battle, in which I’ve been engaged for almost five years, when there are so many other more worthwhile battles to be fought. Senior business people (mostly men) have over recent years proved themselves mind-numbingly stupid in accepting the arguments for increasing the proportion of women in their companies’ senior levels, and I see no evidence of that stupidity lessening. Indeed, their public pronouncements become ever more absurd with each passing year.

At some point these blithering idiots will be faced with the stark truth that they’ve made a big mistake, but it will be difficult and costly to return to the principle of promoting people solely on merit. They’ll need to sack or demote the women who were promoted on ideological grounds, and give their jobs to the men who were better qualified.

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Campaign for Merit in Business referenced in a Guardian piece – MPs’ corporate governance inquiry: what are the key issues?

We recently sent a written submission to a DBIS inquiry on corporate governance, and were pleased to see it covered by The Guardian yesterday – here. The relevant extract:

Diversity
A read through the submissions to the committee so far shows that breaking free from white, middle-aged male [my emphasis] groupthink is almost universally popular. [Racist, ageist, and sexist – well done, The Guardian!] The Institute of Directors criticises companies for rejecting alternative voices at the risk of stagnation and calls for younger directors. LGIM opposes quotas but wants the chairman to push for a greater mix of ethnicity, skills and background. The TUC calls for mandatory quotas for women. The Campaign for Merit in Business has a different view, asserting the diversity drive is “anti-male” and asking why the government does not encourage more women in sewage work and bomb disposal.

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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.]

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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