Quentin Letts’s exposure for Campaign for Merit in Business

Visitors to the blog of the Anti-Feminism League http://fightingfeminism.wordpress.com may recall that in March 2012 the writer, broadcaster and Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts gave the League some welcome exposure:

http://fightingfeminism.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/the-estimable-quentin-letts/

I’m delighted to report that Mr Letts has given exposure to the Campaign for Merit in Business in his Mail column today:

The Harriet Harman-ite push for more women on company boards has suffered a setback – thanks, oh dear, to a member of the sisterhood. One of the main arguments heard in favour is that companies with female directors will make bigger profits.

However, Cranfield University’s Professor Susan Vinnicombe, appearing at a House of Lords inquiry into the idea, has now torpedoed that theory. ‘It does not make sense,’ she stated.

The Campaign for Merit in Business, which opposes feminist tokenism, is cock-a-hoop. But will Prof Vinnicombe’s admission stop Business Secretary Vince Cable interfering with the independence of firms that appoint directors on ability rather than gender?

A link to the column:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2183326/Cripes-A-Tory-Borises-Boris.html

Different positions on quotas: The Fawcett Society v The 30% club

I refer you again to the recent submissions of written evidence to the House of Lords sub-committee:

120726 House of Lords sub-committee, written evidence submitted

If you consider all the submissions, you’ll see that virtually all fall cleanly into one of three camps with respect to quotas designed to ‘improve’ gender balance in the boardroom:

ANTI QUOTAS

This is the position of Campaign for Merit in Business, because it seems to us that such quotas are unmeritocratic, their ideological foundation being left-wing and by definition counter to the legitimate interests of private business, and therefore discouraging wealth creation. Our submission is on pp 47-49, while other contributions in a similar vein are put by Michael Klein (pp 106-111) and Raymond Russell (p 155).

PRO QUOTAS

This is (predictably) the position of The Fawcett Society as well as others. The Fawcett Society has frequently been exposed as being cavalier in its use and manipulation of data in business-related areas, for example in its statements on the ‘gender pay gap’. We shouldn’t be too surprised then by their inferring causation from the McKinsey and Catalyst studies and reports, when all they show is correlation (if even that). Anyone familiar with The Fawcett Society will be only too aware it’s a misandrous organisation dedicated to relentlessly advantaging women and girls in general (and militant feminists in particular) at the expense of men and boys, so the nonsense they’ve submitted to the House of Lords committee (pp 67-73) is at least consistent with their ideology.

ANTI QUOTAS BUT PRO QUOTA THREATS 

This position is adopted by the 30% club among others to encourage companies to add more women to their boards ‘voluntarily’. It’s the government’s official position, stated regularly by both the prime minister and Vince Cable, the business secretary. In our view, this position is utterly indefensible. If quotas are wrong, how can the threat of them be right? It’s the same position taken by the mugger who, when addressing his victim, says, ‘I’m against physical violence, but I’m prepared to use it if you don’t hand over your money voluntarily’.

The submission of the 30% club (pp 173-8) has some figures for the proportion of newly appointed non-executive directors who are female:

2010: 13%

2011: 30%

2012 (March to date): 44%

Could it be any clearer? FTSE100 companies are taking on token women in the least risky manner possible – as non-executive directors – in direct response to the threat of quotas. Organisations including the 30% club applaud the increase in numbers, and infer these women are being appointed on the grounds of merit, when most of them are clearly not.

With the London Olympics officially starting today, let me offer a sporting analogy. Let’s include women in the 100 metre men’s event, but with a 25 metre start over the male sprinters, accepted by the men on the grounds that otherwise they’d have 3 seconds added to their times. Would that be a triumph for female athletes? No. And nor is the increase in the number of female directors under the threat of quotas.

Finally, permit me to make a prediction. The business sector will start fighting back against this ideologically-inspired initiative, and soon.

Have a good weekend.

House of Lords select committe inquiry on ‘Women on Boards’: written evidence submitted

Regular visitors to this blog will be aware of the House of Lords inquiry. Herewith the latest update:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/eu—internal-market-sub-committee-b/

Written submissions to the enquiry were published this afternoon:

120726 House of Lords sub-committee, written evidence submitted

Most of the written evidence is from the usual suspects, many of them professionally committed to ‘improving’ gender balance in the boardroom. Many of them refer to now discredited reports and ‘evidence’, and overall we have an example of ‘groupthink’ that takes some beating. Which is ironic, given that one of the arguments for more women on boards is to reduce groupthink… We’ve been in touch with most of these groups, and none has offered a shred of evidence of a positive causal relationship between more women on boards and enhanced corporate performance. Indeed, organisations and individuals with some integrity are publicly distancing themselves from the ridiculous claim.

There are submissions, however, offering a different perspective:

Campaign for Merit in Business: pages 47-49

Michael Klein: pages 106-111

Ray Russell: page 155

Professor Susan Vinnicombe, the world’s leading academic proponent of ‘more women on boards’, makes a remarkable admission to a House of Lords inquiry

Regular readers of this blog will need no introduction to two of the leading British proponents of ‘improved’ gender diversity in boardrooms, Professor Susan Vinnicombe and Dr Ruth Sealy, respectively Director and Deputy Director of the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders (‘CICWL’). Professor Vinnicombe founded CICWL in 1999, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that these indefatigable ladies are leading lights in their movement globally. Who better, then, to stop the Campaign for Merit in Business in its tracks, by providing evidence for the long-claimed yet elusive causal link between ‘improved’ gender diversity in the boardroom, and enhanced corporate performance? Sadly, they have yet to provide such evidence to us. The reason has just become clear, and it is with particular interest that we have read the minutes of last Monday’s House of Lords sub-committee meeting on ‘Women on Boards’:

120716 House of Lords sub-committee meeting minutes

Much of the content will come as no surprise to people who follow this topic closely, and we may post a detailed critique of the report in the coming days. It seems to us from the minutes of the committee’s meetings that all 11 peers (three of them Conservatives) are supporters of ‘improved’ gender diversity in boardrooms, and all the witnesses questioned have been likewise. Indeed, many of the latter have been professional proponents of ‘improved’ gender diversity. Not a single dissenting voice has been heard. If this is democracy, I’m an aubergine. I’m reminded of the December 2010 CBI report, ‘Room at the Top’, whose 14 co-signatories included 9 women, along with five men who were already on record as being supporters of ‘improved’ gender diversity on boards.

The most interesting section of the minutes is possibly that between pages 4-7, questions 199-201. For the time being we’d just like to bring to your attention Professor Vinnicombe’s response to a question put by Lord Fearn, which I’ve reproduced below. I’ve indented the key sentences. Our thanks to Professor Vinnicombe for her integrity in making these statements. We can only hope that others (Vince Cable and Lord Davies come to mind) start to display more honesty in this area. But let’s not hold our breath, because they’d be admitting what we have long known – there is no financial case for improving gender diversity in the boardroom. And without a financial case, what is left? Nothing more than left-wing conspiracy theories, fantasies, lies, delusions and myths.

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 Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners

My thanks to Helen for bringing to my attention The Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners, an organisation founded in 2009. Website www.iedp.org.uk. She writes, ‘If the Board members and other members of The Institute of Equality and Diversity Practitioners can’t provide you with evidence of a positive causal link between ‘improved’ gender diversity on boards and enhanced corporate performance, then who can?’ A good point, Helen, and well made.

I see the IEDP has a Board consisting of seven women and one man. Now that gender ratio  is interesting because it’s the same ratio that exists (on average) across FTSE100 companies’ boardrooms, albeit in the opposite direction. As always in the world of equality and diversity, female domination of senior-level bodies is admirable and to be sustained, while male domination is regrettable and to be destroyed.

I’ve emailed the IEDP the following message, and will let you know of anything that emerges from them. Don’t hold your breath.

Greetings from the Campaign for Merit in Business. You might be interested in the following piece posted by The Institute of Economic Affairs:

http://www.iea.org.uk/blog/the-gender-diversity-delusion

I can’t imagine a body of people better qualified than yourselves to provide the elusive evidence for a positive causal link between ‘improved’ gender diversity in boardrooms, and enhanced corporate performance. We’ve been in touch with many organisations and individuals who claim the link exists, but not one has been able to provide a shred of robust evidence. Maybe you’ll be the first organisation to do so? I do hope so. Finding the Higgs-Boson particle was straightforward by comparison. A copy of this message will be posted on the blogs https://c4mb.wordpress.com and http://fightingfeminism.wordpress.com. Have a nice day.

Your invitation to the House of Lords next Monday, 16 July

At 4pm next Monday, 16 July, there will be a meeting of a House of Lords sub-committee reviewing ‘gender balance in the boardroom’, with respect to EU involvement in this area. I’ll be attending the meeting myself as a spectator, and I invite you to join me there (one supporter has already confirmed he’ll do so). If you can join us, please let me know by emailing me at mikebuchanan@hotmail.co.uk. The meeting will be in Committee Room 2, House of Lords, and is scheduled to finish at 6pm. Background information below:

http://www.parliament.uk/hleub

The meeting is open to the public, but the public isn’t permitted to make any points or to present questions. This is unfortunate given that the two most senior people at Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders, Professor Susan Vinnicombe and Dr Ruth Sealy, will be the ‘witnesses’ examined in the first hour of the meeting. There are a number of questions I’d like to ask them in such a forum, and hopefully I shall one day.

I urge you to respond as soon as possible to the committee’s ‘Call for Evidence’. The deadline for submissions has just passed (10 July) but I’ve been assured that they’ll accept late submissions for a short period. So get your response in TODAY! At the same time, why not take a rare opportunity (in your response) to table a question or questions you’d like the sub-committee to consider, or maybe to ask Prof.Vinnicombe and/or Dr Sealy? Details of how to respond to the ‘Call for Evidence’ are available through the link below. It took me maybe an hour to prepare a response on behalf of Campaign for Merit in Business. Don’t be put off by the questions which assume that gender diversity in the boardroom is intrinsically a ‘good’ thing (most of them do). Make your opinions known. Thank you.

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/eu-sub-com-b/GenderImbalanceintheBoardroom/genderbalancecfe.pdf

The word is getting out… (updated 9.7.12)

[Note: Michael Klein of http://sciencefiles.org posted a comment to the blog which is the subject of this post on 5 July, and as of today – 9 July – it’s still not visible on the blog. I don’t know the reason for this , but for the sake of this blog’s readers I’ve just added Michael’s comment to this blog, at the bottom of the piece.]

My thanks to a supporter for pointing me to an intriguing post on a blog run by Henkel, a multinational company which manufactures such leading ‘personal care’ brands as Persil washing powder, Schwarzkopf haircare products and Loctite adhesives. Enjoy it while it’s still available, because from past history we can expect the ‘improved gender diversity’ brigade to bully and shame the people who run the website into removing the post. In the meantime I invite you to add your own comments to mine.

http://www.henkeldiversity.com/2012/05/02/the-benefit-from-gender-diversity-just-a-delusion/

In case it IS taken down, here’s the text. The first link is to my blog piece for The Institute of Economic Affairs:

The benefit from gender diversity – just a delusion?

(c) Mike Buchanan

The call for more diverse board members and leadership-teams is on everyone’s lips. It is said that companies are able to perform better, be more innovative and will outperform their peers if they increase their diversity. These arguments – at least the gender diversity aspects –are massively challenged by Mike Buchanan, author of the book “The Glass Ceiling Delusion: The real reasons more women don’t reach senior positions”

Mike Buchanan looked at some studies and surveys and found out, that they were not able to find causal links between the higher proportion of women on management committees and a better performance of these companies. Furthermore he found studies which detected deterioration in performance when a women’s quota is targeted and another study that stated that younger executive teams as well as a higher proportion of female executives lead to higher risk taking. Thus the message of Mike Buchanan is clear: The proclaimed benefit of gender diversity is a delusion!

Is he right? If we consider the arguments in more detail theses statements are not as profound as it seems at the first moment but a very one-sided and reduce view of the cited studies. For example one study he quoted proved that companies with a higher proportion of women on their management committees are the ones with the best performance. The poorer corporate performance again could also be due to the inexperience of the younger board members and not attributable solely to the sex. Anyhow – are there facts and figures, studies or surveys which show a significant and causal link, that companies with men in the top management steadily make more profit, perform better or generate more revenues than companies with mixed leadership teams?

With these arguments of delusion in mind another call is even more interesting. Also recent research of McKinsey shows, that companies with diverse executive boards enjoy significant higher earnings and returns on equity. As here only gender and international differences are considered Dr. Gregersen, Professor of Leadership at the Business School INSEAD, even goes further and recommends diversifying diversity.  He believes that even better results can be made – especially concerning the innovation capacity – when not only (or mostly) gender and culture are focused but every kind of diversity is promoted. As in today’s fast moving environment the management teams of companies need to generate innovative or even disruptive strategies, different perspectives, various experiences and open communication which reflects different opinion is needed.

Delusion or a further need to diversify – what do you think?

I’ve posted the following comment:

I’ve just looked at the McKinsey report you mention, and (as expected) it’s as flawed as all the others presented as showing the financial performance benefits of greater gender diversity. From the report:

“We acknowledge that these findings, though consistent, aren’t proof of a direct relationship between diversity and financial success. At high-performing companies, the board or CEO may simply have greater latitude to pursue diversity initiatives, and other management innovations may contribute more directly to superior results.”

We are being led to confuse correlation with causation. It’s like concluding that because rich men often marry beautiful women, those women CAUSE those men to become rich. No wonder beautiful women are in such demand…

I’ve been looking for evidence of a positive causal link between ‘improved’ gender diversity and superior corporate financial performance for three years, and I have yet to find any. The only evidence I can find is a negative link (see my IEA blog). Maybe your readers can provide evidence to me? Thank you.

Mike Buchanan

CAMPAIGN FOR MERIT IN BUSINESS

https://c4mb.wordpress.com

Michael Klein’s comment:

 I sometimes wonder how long it will take for people looking at a tree to calling the tree a tree. The effect of Gender Diversity in the boardroom is like a tree – It is proven to harm companies not to do companies any good. So we may well skill all this ideological junk and revert to the facts, calling a tree a tree that is.

The proof of quota’s harm is here:
Now lets turn to the McKinsey Study: Freshmen at a university learn that there is a difference between correlation and causation. When you find a correlation between diversity in the boardroom and say ROI, that does not mean Gender diversity CAUSED a good ROI. To claim that is does is called a fallacy of affirming the consequence, it is this very fallacy because one can quite easily argue that it is especially successful companies (with a good ROI) who give in to CSR-pressure exerted by the UN, EU, their national government and include more women in their boards. Hence, there is no need to look any further in this dubious study by McKinsey, but if you do, you will find a sophisticated attempt to avoid the very question of causation.
The next study, usually mentioned when it comes to the supposed merits of Gender Diversity in the Boardroom is a study by the Finnish EVA. I’ve linked and discussed the study here:
When you read this brief “study” carefully, you will not only find a number of methodological errors, but also come to the conclusion that the only argument the authors have left in their arsenal for advancing women’s share in Boards is that they are women, which boils down to the rather crude statement that it is better to include more women in boardrooms, because it is better to include women in boardrooms. In formal Logic we call that a tautology and subsume it under the “no-content” statements.
So as far as science, and not ideology is concerned, there is no way around the fact that a women quota in boardrooms harms a company and does it no good. How could it be different? Anyone heard of something like experience. If the logic behind the women quota would be correct, you could place a newborn child in a boardroom and it would have a positive effect because of the increase in diversity. Hence, I strongly suggest to read Mike Buchanan’s book with an open mind. It will open eyes and avenues of thinking.

My open letters to Rt Hon Theresa May MP and Rt Hon Vince Cable MP

[Note added 17 July 2012: my joy at the government’s decision to remove the threat of quotas for women on boards was premature. The risk still remains. The government was merely objecting officially to EU-imposed quotas, but continues itself to threaten them if companies don’t increase the proportion of women on their boards ‘voluntarily’.]

Fresh from celebrations over the government’s decision to remove the threat of quotas for women in the boardroom – a matter reported in this blog yesterday – I read the following in today’s Telegraph:

The Department for Business and the Home Office said a ‘growing body’ of research was showing that ‘diverse’ boards made companies more effective.

Supporters of the Campaign for Merit in Business know this statement is a blatant untruth. In consequence, I’ve just posted a letter to the heads of the two departments officially spreading the untruth, Vince Cable and Theresa May. They’re virtually identical (the letters, not the politicians, obviously, you’d never struggle to tell them apart) and I’ll just include Mrs May’s letter here:

120529 letter to Rt Hon Theresa May MP

I shall post the responses from Mrs May and Mr Cable upon receipt (if any), along with details of ‘the growing body of research’ (if any). Please don’t hold your breath.

A small but important victory for meritocracy

[Note added 17 July 2012: It turned out I was wrong in thinking there’d been a small victory for meritocracy. After I posted the following it emerged that the government’s objections to quotas related only to EU-imposed quotas. The government from David Cameron down – and Vince Cable in particular – continues to threaten quotas if companies fail to ‘improve’ the proportion of women on their boards ‘voluntarily’. What might George Orwell have made of this abuse of the language, one wonders?]

Today’s papers bring welcome news of an important victory in the battle for meritocracy in British boardrooms. The government has made it known that it is to drop its threat to legislate for quotas for female directors in the boardroom. To what extent The Campaign for Merit in Business (‘CMB’) can claim any credit for bringing about this decision, we have no way of knowing, because the government – feminist-friendly in its senior reaches, most notably David Cameron himself – refuses to engage with us. Probably a bigger factor is the belated recognition that only a small number of women (compared with men) have the experience and expertise necessary to contribute effectively as board directors, even at the ‘gravy train’ non-executive director level.

But the CMB remains the only organisation in the UK articulating the case for meritocracy in business, and campaigning against special treatment for identifiable groups (e.g. women) at the expense of other groups (e.g. men). We know from whistle-blowers that our messages are getting across, and the government was faced with the unappealing prospect of imposing quotas for women when it’s clear that this could only damage UK plc, at a time when the economy needs all the help it can get.

Senior business people (men and women) are increasingly accepting the validity of the arguments we’re putting forward. The CBI – as these people’s representatives – should be articulating the case for meritocracy in British boardrooms but as readers of this blog will know, the organisation has caved in to feminist thinking on the matter of gender diversity in the boardroom, despite being unable to offer a shred of evidence to support its claim that gender diversity can be expected to improve corporate performance.

With the withdrawal of the threat of quotas for women in the boardroom, is the battle won? Far from it. This is a small, albeit critical, victory in the fight against ‘improved’ gender diversity in the senior levels of the corporate sector. The campaign to force more women onto boards is ideological in nature, and cannot therefore be defeated, only thwarted. One of the objectives of the CMB is to equip senior business people with the information and the resolve they require to thwart the manipulative women behind the campaign, along with their male collaborators, many of whom are ‘captains of industry’. Besides which, we have yet to see how the odious initiative spearheaded by EU Commissioner Viviane Reding will play out.

It’s presumably no coincidence of timing that the dropping of quotas was announced in parallel with the publication today of a study carried out for the ultra-left-wing Equality and Human Rights Commission (‘EHRC’). The report was drawn up by the Cranfield School of Management, which on gender matters reliably means The Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders (‘CICWL’), long-term campaigners for more women on boards. Regular readers of this blog will be aware that CICWL is among many campaigning bodies which have been unwilling (or, more realistically, unable) to provide evidence to back up their assertions of a positive causal relationship between more women on boards, and improved corporate performance. I called the CICWL to ask for the job title of the lady mentioned in the article below, Elena Doldor, and was told by the lady on the switchboard that she didn’t know her job title, but her personal title is ‘Ms.’ Quelle surprise. Women working in the field of ‘gender diversity’ often seem to be titled ‘Ms.’ A little clue there to their left-wing politics.

My thanks to Michael Klein of http://sciencefiles.org for supplying me with a PDF of the ‘study’ in question. Enjoy:

120528 Cranfield School of Management report for EHRC

With the EHRC being so left-wing, what better paper to draw upon for an article on this topic than the Guardian? Obviously my political convictions prevent me from buying the paper but I was able to copy down the following article from today’s edition at the library. It’s basically a rehashed ‘glass ceiling’ story, as usual:

MALE ELITE BARS WOMEN’S WAY TO TOP, SAYS STUDY

The ‘male-dominated corporate elite’ occupying the boardrooms of the UK’s biggest companies is deterring the appointment of women to the upper echelons of corporate Britain, the equalities watchdog warns today. The first in-depth study of recruitment of non-executive directors by headhunters, carried out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, finds that the men who hold the majority of seats around the tables of the 350 biggest companies listed in London tend to select new members with similar characteristics to themselves…

“The often subjective way of making appointments ends up replicating existing boards rather than bringing in talented women who bring real benefits to individual company performance and ultimately help Britain’s economic recovery,” said Lady Prosser, deputy chair of the EHRC.

It is now more than a year since Lord Davies, the former banker and a Labour trade minister, set out targets for women to hold 25% of boardroom positions by 2015, and the government is preparing to tell European policymakers that it does not endorse proposals for mandatory quotas in boardrooms across Europe…

In January this year there were 143 women in non-executive director roles in the  FTSE100 and only 20, or 6.6%, in executive roles.

The report for the EHRC, by Cranfield School of Management, was based on academic literature and interviews with 10 headhunting firms in London which had signed up to a new code. Elena Doldor, author of the report, says that headhunters needed to do more to keep women in the running for boardroom positions…

The study shows that the appointment of board members is often driven by a “homogeneous elite group of individuals at the top of the FTSE100 companies”…

Gender balance in the boardroom – a sample chapter from ‘The Glass Ceiling Delusion’

Since I launched The Campaign for Merit in Business a month ago I’m being increasingly asked by senior business people and journalists to present my core arguments against quotas and other positive discrimination measures to ‘improve’ the number of women in boardrooms. The arguments now include the evidence of two studies (University of Michigan and Deutsche Bundesbank) which show that increasing the number of women on boards adversely impacts on corporate performance.  In addition I’ve been supplying people with a chapter (link below) from my 2011 book The Glass Ceiling Delusion: the real reasons more women don’t reach senior positions and thought I should make it freely available to visitors to this blog. The book’s available from all the usual retailers and from myself – I can sign and dedicate it if you wish, and post it to any address worldwide – if ordered through my publishing website www.lpspublishing.co.uk. The chapter:

Gender balance in the boardroom – a sample chapter from ‘The Glass Ceiling Delusion’