Those of you who follow this blog, or read my books, will know about the militant feminist campaign to ‘improve’ gender diversity in the boardroom. The people behind this campaign – generally but not invariably women – confidently and frequently claim a positive causal link between ‘improved’ gender diversity in the boardroom, and improved corporate performance. They’re WRONG. They’re wrong as surely as members of the Flat Earth Society are wrong. The entire case for increasing the representation of women in boardrooms rests upon a foundation of militant feminist fantasies, lies, delusions and myths, which I explained at length in The Glass Ceiling Delusion.
Only one study (to the best of my knowledge) shows a causal relationship between increased female representation on boards and corporate performance, the study on Norwegian companies between 2003-8 published recently by Ken Ahern and Amy Dittmar of the University of Michigan. It showed that corporate performance DECLINED as female representation on boards increased. Another post in this blog has the link to that report for downloading.
Feminist ‘researchers’ claim a relationship between the number of female directors on a board, and corporate performance. But it’s not a causal relationship, that much is clear to non-ideologists. Female executives are attracted to the large, prestigious, highly profitable firms which can afford to offer very generous packages. There is no evidence – NONE – that these women are causing the improved performance. To claim otherwise would be as absurd as claiming that strikingly beautiful young women cause the wealth of the rich men to whom some of them are mysteriously attracted.
You’ll be aware from my previous posts that the CBI’s December 2010 document ‘Room at the Top’ contains the names of 14 individuals cited as supporting the conclusions of the report. 9 are women. Most of the 5 men were well-known supporters of ‘improved’ gender balance in the boardroom before the report was published. I don’t believe the report accurately represents the views of the majority of CBI member companies, so I’ve challenged John Cridland, the CBI’s Director General, to work with me in selecting a polling organisation to test the matter (another post in this blog). He has yet to reply.
At 4pm on 7 March in London there will be a Financial Times seminar titled, ‘Women on Boards’, one in a series of networking seminars run by the FT’s ‘Non-Executive Directors’ Club’:
Since the FT has lent its prestigious name to this event, you might reasonably expect there to be a balanced set of presentations on the ‘gender balance in the boardroom’ issue. If so, you’d be disappointed. The delegates will pay £150.00 apiece to hear arguments only FOR increased female representation on boards. They’ll pay to hear propaganda. Let me present the speakers:
Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management Ltd. Helena is the Founder of the 30% Club http://www.30percentclub.org.uk/ which campaigns for more women on boards. Its 28-strong Steering Committee has the gender balance we’ve come to expect in this field. All 28 of the individuals are women.
Carol Rosati, Director, Board Services Practice, Harvey Nash. Carol was the co-founder of Inspire, Harvey Nash’s ‘business network for senior women’.
Robert Swannell, Chairman of Marks & Spencer plc. Mr Swannell is a member of the 30% club and a well-known advocate for increased women’s representation on boards.
So, who or what will be the ‘winners’ from ‘improved’ gender diversity in the boardroom? They include:
Female executives who wouldn’t get to the boardroom on the basis of merit – or they would already have done so.
Companies which will earn money directly or indirectly from these women taking on the directorships (e.g. Harvey Nash).
Foreign competitors not saddled with this left-wing-inspired ideology.
Who, or what, will be the losers? They include:
The principle of meritocracy – women will be promoted ahead of more able and experienced male colleagues.
British businesses – for all the hot air spouted on the topic of women in the boardroom, we can reliably expect corporate performance to suffer.
Shareholders – from lower returns and companies becoming less valuable.
The British people – because poorer-performing companies will pay less corporation tax, the burden on taxpayers will have to rise to compensate.
I shall shortly be challenging – in ‘open emails’ – all three of the speakers to provide me by 5p.m. on the eve of the FT seminar their evidence of the asserted positive causal link between increasing female representation in the boardroom and improved corporate performance. Given that no evidence exists, their responses – that is, if they respond at all – should prove interesting.
What can we do in the face of this headlong mad rush towards gender balance in the boardroom (don’t think it will stop at 30%…)? Well, I’m writing to the editor of a major British broadsheet newspaper. I’ll also be handing out leaflets to the FT seminar delegates as they enter the FT Head Office (One Southwark Bridge). I invited you to join me in this activity, and I hope to meet you between 3pm and 4.30pm outside the building (the delegates will be registering from 4p.m.). If you can make it, then please email me at email@example.com to let me know you’ll help fight this militant feminist assault on the business sector, the only wealth-generating sector in the economy. Thank you.