One of the numerous claims made by proponents of ‘improved’ gender diversity in boardrooms is that characteristics which are commoner among women than men are valuable to firms. An example is that women are more likely to have a ‘consensual’ or ‘collegiate’ management style – in plain English, they consult widely before making decisions. This is considered to make risky decision-making less likely. Any man with the same characteristic would be considered indecisive; another double standard.
I’ve received an intriguing testimonial for one of my books from Malcolm McDonald, Emeritus Professor at Cranfield School of Management. He’s long been an internationally renowned expert (and bestselling author) in the field of marketing, and he’s a Visiting Professor at Henley, Warwick, Aston and Bradford University Business Schools. More details on Malcolm here:
Malcolm’s been the chairman of many companies and works with the operating boards of a number of the world’s leading multi-nationals on all continents. Few people could be as well qualified to comment on the effectiveness of different management styles. His testimonial for one of my books:
The Glass Ceiling Delusion makes a significant counter-argument to the debate about women in boardrooms, and for this reason alone it deserves to be read. Whilst I’m personally too old to enter the fray, I’d nonetheless like to add that every scholarly study I’ve read about women in management during the past fifteen years indicates that successful women have exactly the same characteristics as successful men. All my life I’ve admired successful women as much as successful men and have had the privilege of working for and with many of them. A typical example is the brilliant Diane Thompson of the Camelot Group. Another is Professor Lynette Ryals, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of my own University. Women like this get to the top on sheer talent; they have no need of a ‘gender agenda’.
In this debate, however, we also need to be aware that we need pressure groups to ameliorate deep seated prejudices in society, but a point is inevitably reached beyond which we must let meritocracy in a free society take over, otherwise we enter the dangerous domain of social engineering. The irony is that Mike Buchanan’s own movement, Campaign for Merit in Business, is also a pressure group. So, whilst I don’t agree with everything he says and does, I believe his book at least deserves to be read and seriously considered, preferably dispassionately.