About 18 months ago Campaign for Merit in Business http://c4mb.wordpress.com was launched, with the aim of campaigning against the government’s initiatives to drive up the number of women in senior positions in business and elsewhere, regardless of the number of women with sufficient merit to perform those roles as well as the best available men.
Soon after coming to power in May 2010, David Cameron appointed the Labour peer, Lord Davies of Abersoch, to prepare a report recommending how – not whether – the proportion of women in senior positions in major organisations could be increased. The infamous Davies Report was published in February 2011, and we doubted at the time if Harriet Harman could have objected to a single sentence in it. One of its key recommendations was that if FTSE100 boards didn’t have 25% female representation by 2015, the government should consider introducing gender quotas to force them to do so.
The consequences of this recommendation were predictable. In 2010, the year before the report was published, just 13% of newly-appointed FTSE100 directors were women. In 2012, the year after the report was published, 55% of newly-appointed FTSE100 directors were women. Nearly all these women, in common with nearly all the existing female directors in the FTSE100, were appointed as non-executive directors.
Our concerns over the government’s initiatives – and the capitulation to them by big businesses, the CBI, and other organisations – stemmed nor only from the initiatives being anti-meritocratic, but from the growing evidence base which shows that increasing female representation on boards leads to declined in corporate financial performance. Specifically, we pointed to five longitudinal studies, and here’s our briefing paper on the matter, with links to those five studies:
Not one longitudinal study, from anywhere in the world, provides evidence to support the formerly commonly stated assertion that there was a business case – a case based upon improved financial results – to increase the proportion of women on corporate boards. Such claims were routinely made at one time by David Cameron, Vince Cable, and others, but since Campaign for Merit in Business engaged with House of Lords and House of Commons inquiries, such silly assertions are no longer being made.
I invite anyone with an interest in the campaign’s work, and wishing to learn more, to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was very interested to read an article written by Godfrey Bloom, a UKIP MEP, published today on Michael Klein’s website, ‘Science Files’. Of all the British political parties with a high profile, UKIP is by some distance the most committed to meritocracy (e.g. it calls for an expansion of the grammar school sector, and its leader, Nigel Farage, is on record as opposing gender quotas for boardrooms, and elsewhere). Godfrey Bloom’s article is titled, ‘The absurdity of gender quotas for boardrooms’. Enjoy: