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