The uncorrected minutes of last Tuesday’s House of Commons inquiry have just been published and sent to those of us who gave oral evidence, so that corrections may be made. One of the ‘witnesses’ on our panel was Heather McGregor, a businesswoman and a member of the steering committee of the 30% club. Before the inquiry I emailed her details of five longitudinal studies (three relating to Norwegian companies) showing the negative impact on corporate financial performance of ‘improved’ gender diversity on boards, and her PA emailed me to say Heather had found the content of my email ‘very interesting’. Quite apart from this notification, it is inconceivable to me that any person on the steering committee of the 30% club could possibly be unaware that quotas had a negative impact on the financial performance of Norwegian companies.
I raised the matter of these five studies in the inquiry and the chairman, Rt Hon Adrian Bailey MP, asked Heather McGregor an interesting question. Herewith the relevant extract from the uncorrected minutes (the final form of the document has yet to be agreed by the Committee):
Chair: Have you read these longitudinal studies that Mike Buchanan has talked about? If you have, have you any comment on them?
Dr McGregor: I believe that Mr Buchanan is referring to a study in Norway, but I do not know because he has not said so. The study in Norway, where they have had quotas, Mr Chairman, shows that there has been no change in the financial performance of companies, despite the fact that they now have 40% of women on boards.
Heather McGregor’s statement about the financial performance of Norwegian companies is factually incorrect. Two days ago I emailed her to point this out, and I’ve not had a response to that email. An extract from the email from the House of Commons which accompanied the uncorrected minutes:
The House of Commons has emphasised the obligations on witnesses to be honest and open in the evidence which they give to committees. Knowingly to mislead a Committee is a contempt of the House. If you have become aware that you need to make corrections of any matters of fact or interpretation to ensure that the final record of what you said to the Committee is accurate and complete, you should submit a separate note which will be appended to the evidence either as a footnote or as a freestanding memorandum.
Later this morning I shall be emailing Heather McGregor, inviting her to make a correction to her statement. If we don’t receive an assurance from the appropriate House of Commons official that a correction has been submitted by Heather McGregor and accepted for publication, we shall be submitting our own document on the matter. I invite Heather McGregor to arrange for a correction to be submitted to the inquiry, to be communicated to myself, and to ensure that I am informed by a House of Commons official that the minutes will be corrected accordingly.