Good morning. I’m getting increasingly fed up with silly statistics being used to prop up the case for ‘more women in the boardroom’, and their mindless repetition by silly journalists and silly politicians. In an article in yesterday’s Independent on Sunday – JD, thanks for bringing it to my attention – was a reference to data allegedly put out by Catalyst, an American campaigning organisation. I’ve emailed the President/CEO Ilene Lang the following:
‘Ilene, good morning. I’m a British writer with a particular interest in how gender-typical men and women relate to the world of paid employment, and the boardroom in particular. Last year my snappily-titled book was published: The Glass Ceiling Delusion: the real reasons more women don’t reach senior positions. The case for increasing the number of women in boardrooms rests on an ocean of feminist fantasies, lies, delusions and myths. Much of the ‘evidence’ used to support the case is laughable. An article in yesterday’s Independent on Sunday, written by a female journalist, included the following gem:
‘Firms with the most women on their boards outperform those with the fewest on sales by 42 per cent, according to research by Catalyst, which promotes women in business.’
The clear inference is that women are not the equals of men as directors, but their superiors. Would you please provide me with your evidence base for the 43% outperformance statistic? Does it relate to ROCE? I shall happily include your evidence in my next book.
If there’s a link between the number of women on boards and corporate performance, the most likely explanation would be that the most talented women will be inclined to work for the companies offering the best employment terms, because they’re already more profitable than most. There’s no ‘cause and effect’ here so there’s no case to ‘improve’ the gender balance of boards.
Let me offer an analogy. Rich and powerful men often marry beautiful women. Which of the following two alternative explanations might better explain this link?
1. Beautiful women are attracted to rich and powerful men.
2. Beautiful women make their partners rich and powerful.
The answer to this tricky question (and many others) may be found in my new book Feminism: The Ugly Truth (cover design attached). It’s already available on Nook and will shortly be available on Kindle, iPad etc.
A final thought. I note that all of your 13 executive staff are of the female persuasion. Is this the kind of gender balance we can look forward to, if and when more women reach the boardroom?
Have a nice day.’