The ‘women on boards’ scam: Our public challenge of Hanneke Smits, CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management and the new Global Chair of The 30% Club, to answer some questions and wind up The 30% Club

Hanneke Smits is the CEO of BNY Mellon Investment Management and the new Global Chair of The 30% Club. Their related press release is here.

I am about to email a letter (below) to Ms Smits, and I look forward to her response, if any. Her predecessors as Global Chairs of The 30% Club – Helena Morrissey and Ann Cairns – shamelessly declined to respond to the public challenges we made to them two months ago. Let’s see if Ms Smits has more integrity. Don’t hold your breath…

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‘Women on boards’ – our public challenges of four leading proponents

[Note added 18.12.22: A day after we publicly challenged the four leading proponents of ‘more women on boards’, we publicly challenged Paolo Gaudiano, an American Forbes journalist. Details here.]

On behalf of C4MB I’ve sent emails to the four following individuals, click on the links to see the actual documents (they’re fairly similar):

    The questions I put to all of them are these:

    • Do you have evidence of a causal link between increasing gender diversity on boards and enhanced corporate financial performance? If so, please provide links to it. Evidence from the FTSE100 would be particularly welcome, given the almost seven-fold increase in female representation on FTSE100 boards since 2000.
    • Do you accept the findings of the longitudinal studies reporting a causal link between increasing gender diversity on boards and declines in corporate financial performance? If so, do you believe declines in financial performance are a price worth paying for having more women on boards?

    I shall also be sending a press release to well over 1,000 journalists around the world with some interest in business matters.

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    You can make a donation to support our work here. Nobody working for the party draws an income from the party’s income streams. You can help Mike Buchanan meet his personal living expenses through his Patreon page, or send him some Bitcoin, his account is 1EfWxqDAtgJDCR3tVpvVj4fXSuUu4S9WJf. Thank you.

    Mike Buchanan’s written submissions to House of Commons and House of Lords inquiries in 2012, and a remarkable admission by Professor Susan Vinnicombe

    In 2012, the year before the launch of J4MB, I sent written submissions to a House of Commons inquiry, ‘Women in the Workplace’ – here (35 pages) – and a House of Lords inquiry, ‘Women on Boards’, here (3 pages).

    Susan Vinnicombe, a British ‘professor’, has been for many years the leading academic proponent of ‘more women on boards’ in the world. She made a remarkable admission to the same House of Lords inquiry, when giving oral evidence. Her exchange with Lord Fearn (I’ve put in bold text, the most relevant section):

    Lord Fearn: Is there a strong business case for improving the gender diversity of boards? If so, does it follow that there is also a strong business case for increased gender diversity on boards across the EU?

    Professor Susan Vinnicombe: Yes. We believe that there is a very strong, compelling and comprehensive business case for gender diversity on boards, and it is a case which stands not only in the UK but across the EU and indeed globally. It sits on several broad platforms.

    One is talent management. In all the developing countries of the world, 60% of the graduates are now women. We have a tremendous number of women coming in at graduate level to our big corporates. So the fact that we are seeing so few women at the top on our corporate boards is a sheer waste of talent. Talent management would be our first point concerning the business case.

    Secondly, if corporates are to serve their markets well, it just makes sense that they need to be able to represent those markets. In many of the markets, women are the consumers, so it makes very good business sense to have women on the corporate boards of those companies.

    Thirdly, there has been quite a push in the past – indeed, we ourselves have engaged in such research – to look at the relationship between having women on corporate boards and financial performance. We do not subscribe to this research. We have shared it with chairmen and they do not think that it makes sense. We agree that it does not make sense. You cannot correlate two or three women on a massive corporate board with a return on investment, return on equity, turnover or profits. We have dropped such research in the past five years and I am pleased to say that Catalyst, which claims to have done a ground-breaking study on this in the US, officially dropped this line of argument last September.

    However, there are broader, non-financial performance indicators, such as corporate social responsibility, employee involvement, innovation, philanthropy and good communications, which have been seen to be connected to companies that have women on their boards.

    The original blog piece on Susan Vinnicombe’s admission is here.

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    Campaign for Merit in Business – let’s get political

    [Updated 28 February 2013]

    The Electoral Commission has just registered our political party, Justice for Men & Boys (and the women who love them). More on this later in this post.

    Campaign for Merit in Business, which was launched early in 2012, has made a remarkable impact in a relatively short time. We’ve proven beyond all reasonable doubt that the ‘glass ceiling’ is a baseless conspiracy theory. Through exposing as fantasies, lies, delusions and myths, the arguments which said that increasing gender diversity in the boardroom (‘GDITB’) will improve corporate financial performance, we’ve destroyed the long-vaunted ‘business case’ for GDITB. We continue to publicise five longitudinal studies, all of which show that GDITB leads to declines in corporate financial performance. What else would we expect when businesses aren’t free to select the best people for their boards, regardless of gender? Proponents are left with little other than misrepresenting correlation as causation in pursuit of their social engineering programmes.

    The Conservative-led coalition no longer challenges our assertion that the impact of GDITB on UK plc will inevitably be a negative one. And yet it continues to actively pursue GDITB. DBIS continues to refuse to have a minister meet with us. What might explain this extraordinary state of affairs? We believe there are a number of strands in the answer:

    1. David Cameron has an exaggerated fear of the ‘women’s vote’. He showed his feminist-friendly credentials soon after coming to power in 2010 by appointing the Labour peer Lord Davies of Abersoch to report not on whether to give effect to GDITB, but on how to do so. Indeed he showed those credentials in the autumn of 2009, when he announced he was setting up some all-women prospective parliamentary candidate (‘PPC’) shortlists. I’d once worked for the party at their London HQ (2006-8) but resigned my party membership in the autumn of 2009 when David Cameron announced his willingness to introduce all-women PPC shortlists for the forthcoming general election. I was later informed, by a senior officer in the party, that I was far from alone in having done so.

    2. The leading minister at DBIS, the Lib Dem MP Vince Cable, holds extreme left-wing views, and is on record as saying that if he were Prime Minister, 50% of his cabinet would be women. He has publicly used – in his speeches and writings – utterly discredited research ‘evidence’ in support of GDITB.

    3. The CBI, which should be defending its members’ rights to appoint directors as they see fit, is a part of the problem. For some years it’s actively promoted GDITB. Its current President, Sir Roger Carr (chairman of Centrica) is on record as stating that while he doesn’t personally believe GDITB improves corporate financial performance, he thinks it improves meeting ‘atmospherics’.

    4. GDITB is being pursued vigorously because FTSE100 companies are under threat of legislated quotas (Davies Report – 2011) if they don’t ‘voluntarily’ achieve 25% female representation on their boards by 2015. This has resulted in a more than fourfold increase in FTSE100 female director appointments, from 12% of new appointments before the quotas threat (2010) to 55% (2012). Virtually all of the new female appointments have been as NEDs, an indicator of how shallow the available pool of qualified women is compared with the available pool of qualified men.

    5. For some years government inquiries into such matters, while seeming to be open, have been deeply flawed. The most obvious recent example was the 2012 House of Lords inquiry into ‘Women on Boards’ which heard only from witnesses in support of GDITB. Many were professionally involved in the initiative. The level of witness challenging by the peers, including the Conservatives, was embarrassing to watch. In our written evidence to the inquiry we included details of four longitudinal studies which show that GDITB harms corporate performance. The final inquiry report explicitly rejected the idea that GDITB can lead to declines in corporate performance, without explaining why. We wrote to the inquiry’s chairwoman, Conservative peer Baroness O’Cathain, asking for an explanation, and didn’t receive one.

    6. The House of Commons inquiry into ‘Women in the Workplace’, to which we gave oral evidence, is still ongoing, and we’re hopeful of more attention being given to our evidence than was the case with the House of Lords inquiry. But virtually all the witnesses before this inquiry, as with the House of Lords inquiry, have been pro-GDITB. We’ve made formal complaints about the misleading testimonies of a number of ‘witnesses’, one of whom amended her evidence as a result.

    [New entry, 22 July 2013: The report of a House of Commons inquiry – ‘Women in the Workplace’ – was outrageous in its curt dismissal of our evidence base and arguments, and those of the renowned sociologist Catherine Hakim. The committee blindly accepted feminist arguments in relation to the genders in the workplace, while traditional Conservative perspectives on issues such as meritocracy were nowhere to be seen. Our critique of the report is here.]

    The area of GDITB is but one of many areas in which governments actively discriminate for women and against men, because they’re fearful of the potential impact of ‘women’s votes’. Let’s consider just one example of that discrimination. Two-thirds of public sector workers are women, and the Equality Act (2010) effectively enables public sector bodies to discriminate on the grounds of gender in terms of recruitment and promotion, where one gender is ‘under-represented’. In practise only women in the sector are using the legislation, and only to advance women. Positive discrimination on gender grounds is illegal, so the government terms the phenomenon ‘positive action’. It amounts to exactly the same thing in practice.

    Men have signally failed to co-operate effectively to defend men’s human rights over many years, but this is changing. Politicians of all parties have left us with no choice. We’ve taken the only logical step. We’ve formed a political party to challenge the government in numerous policy areas – including GDITB – where there’s relentless special treatment for women at the expense of men. I shall lead the party.

    On 30 December the leading broadcaster and Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts exclusively revealed our intention to launch the party.

    The name of the party was revealed in an article published by the world’s most-visited and influential men’s human rights advocacy website, A Voice for Men.

    If you believe in this cause, then please support us by making a donation or possibly by making a contribution in other ways. A qualified accountant has taken care of finances both before and since the party’s establishment. 100% of donations will be used to finance our campaigning work. Nobody associated with this campaign or our party derives any personal income from donations. Thank you for your interest in our work.

    Mike Buchanan

    mike@j4mb.org.uk

    07967 026163

    Severn Trent Water – the three key roles on the board will soon be held by women. Sell your shares IMMEDIATELY.

    A piece in Personnel Today. Given what we’ve known for 10+ years about the impact of increasing gender diversity on boards on corporate financial performance, we strongly recommend you sell any shares you might have in the company immediately.

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    Our public challenge of Joanne Cleaver, Investment News

    Another day, another article about the supposed benefits of increasing gender diversity on corporate boards, this time by Joanne Cleaver in Investment News. The inference that correlation is evidence of causation couldn’t be clearer:

    Tallying the proportion of women on boards of publicly held companies is straightforward, thanks to reports mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Women’s advocacy organizations like Catalyst have mined such data for decades. As evidence accumulates that a significant proportion of women on boards of companies correlates with stronger and more sustainable financial performance, investors say they must have more detailed information about women in the executive ranks and leadership pipeline, the better to put money in the hands of women who could deliver superior results.

    In December we posted public challenges of four leading proponents of ‘more women on boards’. They didn’t respond to the challenge, predictably, and I’m now going to email Joanne Cleaver (jcleaver@investmentnews.com) with the same challenge. I confidently predict that she, too, won’t respond to it.

    ‘Women on boards’ – our public challenge of Paolo Gaudiano, Forbes journalist

    Yesterday we posted a blog piece with details of our challenges of four high-profile proponents for ‘more women on boards’, inviting them to supply links to research indicating a causal link between increasing gender diversity on boards and corporate financial improvement, for over a decade the purported ‘business case’ for more gender diversity. After 10 years of running C4MB, I am unaware of any studies that show such a link. The only causal links of which I’m aware are between more gender diversity and financial DECLINE.

    I originally presented evidence to a House of Commons inquiry in 2012, and it’s a remarkable thing that in the past 10 years not a single mainstream media outlet in the world has reported the causal links shown by large-scale academic studies in a number of countries.

    The reasons for this media silence are many and varied, one of them being that so many business journalists – in common with many other journalists – are themselves progressive propagandists. As if to illustrate the point, a supporter has just emailed me a link to a piece in Forbes, EU Law Set To Increase Gender Diversity On Company Boards. It’s by Petro Gaudiano, describe as a ‘contributor’, with the strapline, ‘I explore the complexities of diversity & inclusion’. Let’s see how well he does that, shall we? From his profile on his Forbes page.

    My work is rooted in the belief that Diversity & Inclusion research can be leveraged to make our society more inclusive and equitable. I do this work through a three-pronged approach that combines entrepreneurial, nonprofit and academic activities: Aleria (aleria.tech) is a startup that helps corporations measure inclusion to identify strategies that increase company performance and employee satisfaction. ARC (arc501c3.org) is a nonprofit conducting D&I research on the impact of D&I across many aspects of society. I am also an Adjunct Associate Professor at the New York University Stern School of Business, where I teach about D&I in the context of social entrepreneurship, and organize the annual Diversity & Inclusion Research Conference (DIRC.info). In this blog I explore some of the complexities of understanding and managing DEI and I provide useful information and practical tips to help leaders understand the value of embracing inclusion, equity and diversity in their organizations and in their personal lives.

    Please reach out (paolo@aleria.tech) if you want to learn more or to discuss these fascinating topics.

    The initial words alone are very telling:

    My work is rooted in the belief that…

    Belief is an act of faith, here a manifestation of ideology. Experience tells me that Gaudiano won’t be capable of engaging with the evidence that a causal link exists between increasing gender diversity on boards and financial decline, because it would cause him unbearable stress through cognitive dissonance to do so. The first paragraph on the Wikipedia entry on the subject:

    In the field of psychologycognitive dissonance is the perception of contradictory information, and the mental toll of it. Relevant items of information include a person’s actions, feelings, ideasbeliefsvalues, and things in the environment. Cognitive dissonance is typically experienced as psychological stress when persons participate in an action that goes against one or more of those things. According to this theory, when two actions or ideas are not psychologically consistent with each other, people do all in their power to change them until they become consistent. The discomfort is triggered by the person’s belief clashing with new information perceived, wherein the individual tries to find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort.

    Onto Gaudiano’s Forbes article. An extract:

    But does increased representation actually lead to better results? A recent article by Jennifer Merton and Nicole Rabovsky offers a thorough review of some of the conflicting findings that seem to support both those in favor and those against the use of gender quotas. It would be pointless in this blog to try to summarize all the studies or to argue whose data and which methodologies are more convincing, but there seem to be two generally accepted findings…

    The second finding is a general consensus that simply increasing the number of women on boards is unlikely to lead to significant performance improvements unless the women are given the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the board’s decision-making activities. Nuyens believes firmly that “Diverse teams perform better if they have great leadership, because there will be challenges if there is diversity. As a leader you have to listen, really listen, have empathy and then start to see how your team can come to a decision—but only after you have listened and assessed different viewpoints.” In other words, diversity on its own is not enough, what is also necessary is inclusion.

    This is priceless. Three immediate thoughts:

    • ‘A recent article by Jennifer Merton and Nicole Rabovsky offers a thorough review of some of the conflicting findings that seem to support both those in favor and those against the use of gender quotas. It would be pointless in this blog to try to summarize all the studies or to argue whose data and which methodologies are more convincing…’. This is a cynical attempt to assert some equivalence between the studies. I’ve read so many ridiculously flawed ‘studies’ by feminist ‘academics’ on the women on boards issue, for the sake of my mental health I’m disinclined to read any more. I can say with utter confidence, however, that these women don’t provide evidence of the causal link that has been the purported ‘business case’ for well over 10 years.
    • ‘The second finding is a general consensus…’. A ‘general consensus’ among whom, you might well ask? Among feminist ‘academics’, that’s who. Quelle surprise.
    • The fact that major increases in gender diversity on boards have taken place with no data supporting the claim of an accompanying improvement in financial performance, means that ideologues such as Gaudiano require a new line of attack. He writes, ‘In other words, diversity on its own is not enough, what is also necessary is inclusion.’ In plain English, the problem has been morphed from there not being ‘enough’ women on boards – something that can no longer be claimed without inciting laughter – into companies not listening enough to their female directors. But the overwhelming majority of new female director appointments have been as non-executives, because only a tiny proportion of the people suitable for executive directorships are women, in large part because of women’s freely-made choices, see Susan Pinker’s The Sexual Paradox: Men, Women and the Real Gender Gap (2009). A non-executive directorship is a cushy number for unremarkable women, often with zero understanding of business. To demand of businesses that they ‘listen’ more to these women is like demanding of shepherds that they ‘listen’ more to their sheep.

    I’m about to email Gaudiano, pointing him to this blog piece. I public challenge him to answer the same questions I posed yesterday to the four high-profile proponents of more women on boards:

    • Do you have evidence of a causal link between increasing gender diversity on boards and enhanced corporate financial performance? If so, please provide links to it. Evidence from the FTSE100 would be particularly welcome, given the almost seven-fold increase in female representation on FTSE100 boards since 2000.
    • Do you accept the findings of the longitudinal studies reporting a causal link between increasing gender diversity on boards and declines in corporate financial performance? If so, do you believe declines in financial performance are a price worth paying for having more women on boards?

    Our Facebook page is here, YouTube channel here, Twitter account here.

    You can make a donation to support our work here. Nobody working for the party draws an income from the party’s income streams. You can help Mike Buchanan meet his personal living expenses through his Patreon page, or send him some Bitcoin, his account is 1EfWxqDAtgJDCR3tVpvVj4fXSuUu4S9WJf. Thank you.

    Helen Rumbelow: Single-sex experiments have had their day

    My thanks to Jeff for pointing me to an article in yesterday’s Times. It includes this gem:

    The economic case has been proved for diverse boardrooms. 

    Well, I couldn’t let that one go without commenting, could I? My reply, which has been published, is here:

    Our Facebook page is here, YouTube channel here, Twitter account here.

    You can make a donation to support our work here. Nobody working for the party draws an income from the party’s income streams. You can help Mike Buchanan meet his personal living expenses through his Patreon page, or send him some Bitcoin, his account is 1EfWxqDAtgJDCR3tVpvVj4fXSuUu4S9WJf. Thank you.

    Male FTSE350 company directors to start self-identifying as women to meet government gender quota targets

    In 2012 Mike Buchanan gave oral evidence to a House of Commons inquiry, presenting the committee with the already well-established causal link between appointing mmore women to corporate boards, and financial decline. The business sector has cravenly complied with government demands for more women on boards since the publication of the Davies report in 2011.

    A piece in today’s Times reports that if new proposals from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are accepted, large firms will be able to meet government recommended gender quotas through male directors self-identifying as women. We were contacted yesterday by a (white male) executive director of a FTSE350 company who says he and another (white male) director plan to do exactly that, to avoid taking on useless “diversity hires”. They are also considering self-identifying as BME to meet a government recommended quota in that area.

    Women on Boards – censorship of comments by “The Times”

    Today’s edition of The Times included an article on women on boards. I posted three short pieces linking to the evidence of a causal link between more women on boards and corporate financial decline – the third was addressed to moderators – and all were removed very swiftly (or not published at all) by moderators. The first and third are here.

    The evidence of the causal link is here. I am considering cancelling my subscription to The Times. We expect ideologically-driven censorship like this from The Guardian but not The Times, although The Times is resolutely uncritical of feminism and feminists, employing many feminist “journalists”.

    Please support Mike Buchanan’s work on Patreon. Thank you.

    Dame Helena Morrissey is a LIAR

    My thanks to Jeff for this. The Mail has published a ludicrous article by Dame Helena Morrissey, titled, “Why women really SHOULD rule the world (or at least run more businesses), according to City superwoman DAME HELENA MORRISSEY”.

    Dame Helena Morrissey is the mother of nine children and for many years a leading light in campaigns to increase the proportion of women on corporate boards in the UK. A central claim in her campaigning has been that evidence shows that appointing more women to corporate boards leads to improved corporate financial performance, i.e. inferring there is a causal link.

    SHE’S A LIAR.

    She is mis-representing correlation as causation. We have been publicising the evidence of a causal link between more women on boards and corporate financial DECLINE since our launch in 2012. I presented much of that evidence to the House of Commons “Women in the Workplace” inquiry in November 2012, here (video, 56:49).

    The eagerness with which senior businessmen – chairmen and CEOs among them – have jumped on the bandwagon of “more women on boards” is shameful.

    It is high time the media exposed Morrissey as the egregious LIAR she has been for so many years.

    —————————-

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