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

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.

Michael Klein’s response to the House of Lords ‘Call for Evidence’

My thanks to Michael Klein for agreeing to make available his response to the House of Lords ‘Call for Evidence’. I shall make my own response available next Tuesday, along with details of next Monday’s meeting of the HoL Sub-Committee, and in particular what was said by Susan Vinnicombe and Ruth Sealy of the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders.

The link to Michel Klein’s submission:

120713 Michael Klein’s response to the House of Lords ‘Call for Evidence’

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

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”…