The gender diversity delusion

It is frequently and confidently asserted (and inferred) by proponents of ‘improved’ gender diversity in the boardroom – henceforth ‘GDITB’ – that there exists a demonstrable and positive causal link between GDITB and improved corporate performance. What is the evidence? A 2007 McKinsey report, Women Matter, is frequently cited by proponents. We find the following statement in it:

‘The statistically significant studies show that companies with a higher proportion of women on their management committees are also the companies that have the best performance. While these studies do not demonstrate a causal link [my emphasis] they do, however, give us a factual snapshot that can only argue in favour of greater gender diversity.’

In 2010 David Cameron appointed the Labour peer Lord Davies of Abersoch to report on GDITB. The outcome was the Davies Report, Women on Boards, published in February 2011. In the Executive Summary we find a confident reference to the McKinsey report, and then a clear inference of a causal relationship between GDITB and corporate performance:

‘Evidence suggests that companies with a strong female representation at board and top management level perform better than those without1 and that gender-diverse boards have a positive impact on performance2

1Women Matter, McKinsey & Company, 2007


The report shows the superscript – 2 – at the bottom of the page but no reference source for the assertion is provided.

Only two independent studies show a causal relationship between GDITB and corporate performance, and it’s a negative one. The first study was carried out by two academics at the University of Michigan, Kenneth Ahern and Amy Dittmar, and the latest draft was published in May 2011. The report’s full abstract:

‘In 2003, a new law required that 40 percent of Norwegian firms’ directors be women – at the time only nine percent of directors were women. We use the pre-quota cross-sectional variation in female board representation to instrument for exogenous changes to corporate boards following the quota. We find that the constraint imposed by the quota caused a significant drop in the stock price at the announcement of the law and a large decline in Tobin’s Q over the following years, consistent with the idea that firms choose boards to maximize value. The quota led to younger and less experienced boards, increases in leverage and acquisitions, and deterioration in operating performance, consistent with less capable boards.’

Proponents of GDITB have claimed that the negative effect of legislated quotas on Norwegian businesses reflects only the effect of inexperienced directors, rather than any gender effect. So what do we find when organisations voluntarily ‘improve’ GDITB, appointing more female directors on the grounds of perceived merit? We turn to a discussion paper prepared for Deutsche Bundesbank earlier this year, titled ‘Executive board composition and bank risk taking’. The researchers studied German banks over 1994-2010. The report’s full abstract:

‘Little is known about how socio-economic characteristics of executive teams affect corporate governance in banking. Exploiting a unique dataset, we show how age, gender, and education composition of executive teams affect risk taking of financial institutions. First, we establish that age, gender, and education jointly affect the variability of bank performance. Second, we use difference-in-difference estimations that focus exclusively on mandatory executive retirements and find that younger executive teams increase risk taking, as do board changes that result in a higher proportion of female executives [my emphasis]. In contrast, if board changes increase the representation of executives holding Ph.D. degrees, risk taking declines.’   

The British business community is, I contend, suffering from a collective delusion about GDITB. The multiple explanations for this delusion merit another article in themselves.

Mike Buchanan is author of The Glass Ceiling Delusion: the real reasons more women don’t reach senior positions.

59 thoughts on “The gender diversity delusion”

  1. Posted 24/04/2012 at 13:22 | Permalink

    Len Shackleton’s 2008 Hobart Paper 164 ‘Should We Mind the Gap?’ has many sensible things to say on this topic. In particular, by analysing the practical realities concealed by aggregate statistics, he provides a valuable anti-Keynesian message. (I don’t mean to imply that Keynes was a feminist! But he often ignored relevant distinctions.)

  2. Posted 24/04/2012 at 14:24 | Permalink

    Many thanks for this. The march towards GDITB is an astonishing one, given that the intellectual foundations for GDITB are an invention of misandrous (men-hating) feminists. Why have senior businessmen been so willing to hand over power on a plate? They’re the very men who KNOW the glass ceiling’ never existed. So the feminists invented the ‘pipeline problem’ and senior businessmen have no answer to that particular myth. The eternal reality is that vastly more men than women are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to land the top jobs, and that’s down to human nature, which isn’t going to change any time soon. Women’s preferences for a comfortable work/life balance in preference to full-time work, and highly stressful work, are very well recorded e.g. Catherine Hakim’s ‘Preference Theory’ developed when she worked at the LSE. She found only 14% of women to be ‘work-centred’. Feminists are disproportionately represented in this 14%. So ‘more directorships for women’ REALLY means ‘more directorsships for feminists’.

    Very few people have heard the robust counter-arguments to GDITB, and the organisation which is supposed to represent ‘big business’ in the UK, the CBI, is signally failing to do so. The CBI report ‘Room at the Top’, published in December 2010, had 14 co-signatories: nine women plus five male ‘captains of industry’ who were well-known supporters of GDITB even before the report was written. Combine this with a ridiculous feminist-inspired report on GDITB under the guidance of a left-wing peer – the Davies Report – and the results are predictable; widespread capitulation of the male business community to anti-capitalist feminists. These men should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. And their shareholders should be ejecting them from their positions for putting a left-wing social engineering initiative ahead of their companies’ interests.

  3. Posted 24/04/2012 at 20:54 | Permalink

    The Davies Report – P14 – states –

    “The call for the professionalisation of boards meant that the skills criteria for candidates increasingly focused on the need to have substantial business and board level experience. Our findings show that over time this has also evolved into a need for candidates to have had significant prior financial responsibility. We would argue that, although there is a real need for candidates to be financially literate …….. “(Healing-Men: so far so good!)

    HOWEVER – the Davies report then goes on to say;

    “financial responsibility, just like sector expertise, can be taught and should not be a prerequisite for appointments.”

    Do we really want to risk our TOP 350 companies, worth billions of pounds, employing many, many thousands of people, paying billions in taxes and social contributions and forming the foundation of the entire economic structure of this nation to be strategically managed by people “learning on the job”.

    I don’t –

    I want the highest qualified, most able and inhumanely competent people to apply their huge skills, knowledge and experience and wisdom honed from many years of tough decisions and hard commercial knocks to safely ensure the continued prosperity and success of these vital organisations.

    The entire economic and commercial prosperity of our nation is being put in jeopardy. This is NOT the place for experiments in social engineering, especially when the only objective evidence from others is NEGATIVE.

    We must act now and stop this madness.

  4. Posted 25/04/2012 at 10:07 | Permalink

    Thank you for this post.

    There has been a lot of fuss about GDITB, and the assumed good an increased presence of women in boards does has been subject to heavy campaigning by the EU-commissioner for “Justice” Viviane Reding. Besides these obscure studies that seem to show that GDITB is a good thing, which they do only, if they’re not compared to scientific research standards (I did that for the Study of Finnish Chamber of Commerce “Female Leadership and firm profitability, which turned out rather badly: all the authors of this study could present in order to found their claim that forced female participation in the boardroom improves firm performance was the assumption that women are better leaders because empirical evidence evaporated at closer scrutiny), there is a growing body of research, that shows detrimental effects of firms, once they are forced to add female staff to their boards.

    A study published by the German Bundesbank shows that more women in Boards go along with riskier decisions by these boards.

    And, as far as I am concerned, the soundest and best study, a longitudinal study, researching the subject of forced female participation in boards, conducted by Ahern and Dittmar shows that after the forced introduction of 40% of female staff in boards of Norwegian public companies, almost all variables that show firm performance deteriorated: Tobin’s q took a downturn, market value plummeted, liabilities soared, new acquisitions were poor performing and taken altogether the quality of board decisions got worse.

    So it seems rather obvious (and many rational thinking people always suspected that) that you can not decide that there has to be a stock of experienced and sophisticated women to be implemented in boards because you want it to be there (not even in Brussels). Some things will take time irrespective of the political will (or whim).

    I’ve written about these studies at length, however, in German. Readers, able to read German, may have a look:

    However, both studies, I talked about are in English:
    Ahern and Dittmar’s study can be found here:

    Berger, Kick and Schaeck “Bundesbank-study” can be found here:

  5. Posted 25/04/2012 at 11:26 | Permalink

    The trouble about the claim that companies with a higher proportion of women on boards somehow perform better is: If that is the case, why are business leaders not already stuffing their boards with women? Normally, you don’t have to force people to do something that is good for them. Are they too daft to see a golden opportunity that is handed to them on a plate?
    But I’ve had very similar conversations with Greenies, who were 110% convinced that fthe car industry would benefit from having green measures imposed on them. “But then, why don’t they adopt these measures voluntarily, and in droves, if it’s such a brilliant business idea?”, I asked. “Because they’re too short-sighted and they lack the courage”, came the reply.

  6. Posted 25/04/2012 at 15:46 | Permalink

    Thanks Kris, good points. The case for GDITB is based upon nothing more than feminist fantasies, lies, delusions and myths. I’ve sought evidence for a positive causal link between GDITB and enhanced corporate performance from dozens of proponents of GDITB – details of some of them on the blog – and I’ve never received even a single piece of evidence.

    There are plenty of men in high positions (David Cameron is a notable example) willing – no, eager – to hand over power to women on a plate, regardless of individual women’s merit. Cameron at least has the excuse (unlike our senior businessmen) of political expediency. He may be afraid that the ‘women’s interests’ lobby – e.g. The Fawcett Society – will campaign against him unless he relentlessly policy-favours women over men. You have to wonder how Cameron could explain how and why the estimable Margaret Thatcher was so popular with female voters.I covered much of this ground in ‘David and Goliatha: David Cameron – heir to Harman?’

    There’s a field in which men and women compete with no discriminations, no barriers, and there is by definition no ‘glass ceiling’, no ‘pipeline problem’ – self-employment. The average income of self-employed men is considerably higher than that of self-employed women. So much for women being intrinsically superior to men in the business environment. Men are too deferential to women – especially when women act collectively – to tell them when they’re talking nonsense. It’s time they started doing so, before UK plc starts sinking in the quicksand of this feminist-inspired madness.

    Here’s an idea. Why don’t we ask The Fawcett Society to nominate five female directors to constitute the board of a company. Give the women £100 million from the public purse to buy a company, and then let’s sit back and see what happens. I doubt it would last more than a year or two before it failed. This would be a less expensive option for the Treasury than what’s happening now. GDITB wil lead to ever-weaker boards, ever-weaker companies, and ever-weaker corporate tax receipts. We’ll ALL be losers if GDITB isn’t halted in its tracks.

  7. Posted 25/04/2012 at 19:41 | Permalink

    Mike Buchanan’s point is obvious and accepted by most professional business women. Most of this content is mere sexist “ranting” which should never have been allowed on the site on the basis that it offers nothing new to the debate, and makes for a very dull and disappointing read. I would have expected more from the IEA and will no longer be supporting your organisation.

    I hope these contributors do not have daughters.

  8. Posted 25/04/2012 at 22:43 | Permalink

    Thank you for your comments. If what I’m saying is ‘obvious and accepted by most professional business women’ then why is British business being bullied by threats of quotas for female directors by David Cameron and others, and why are the CBI and numerous ‘women’s groups’ actively advocating GDITB? Who are the professional business women of whom you write, and why are their voices never heard? To say that the contributions to this blog are ‘mere sexist ranting’ is a perfect example of the shaming tactics used over the past 30 years to silence men and women who dare challenge the ideology of militant feminism. (More on this and related topics in Swayne O’Pie’s excellent book, ‘Why Britain Hates Men: Exposing Feminism’). If what I’m saying ‘offers nothing new to the debate’ perhaps you’d be good enough to point me (and the readers of this blog) to where similar views are being openly expressed and debated, whether on the internet or elsewhere? Finally, it’s a long-discredited tactic to threaten to withdraw support from organisations facilitating free speech and debate, trying to shame them into becoming docile broadcasters of propaganda. Maybe that helps explain why there has been NO exposure given in the mass media (to the best of my knowledge) to anyone challenging the ideological feminist thinking behind GDITB. I can’t speak for the other contributors, as they’re unknown to me, but I have daughters, and I wish them to have equality of opportunity with men, which they’ve always had (they’re in their mid-20s). I don’t wish them to be given special treatment on account of their gender, and nor would they expect it, which makes me very proud of them.

  9. Posted 26/04/2012 at 07:06 | Permalink

    @femaleentrepreneur – I am completely bamboozled by your comment. The IEA has posted a blog and you say that the content is obvious and accepted (though I don’t think that is true and the research is certainly not well known) so you will not be supporting the organisation any more. There is no sexist ranting in the post at all. Do you mean the comments – which the IEA does not, of course, edit?

  10. Posted 26/04/2012 at 09:15 | Permalink

    You may think this is new but it’s not, it is all being openly debated within business and Government, just maybe not in the circles you guys move in. I have a Government document (dated Sept 2010) which makes exactly the same point regarding the McKinsey research. The men who are proposing these measures to which you take such offence are senior business people and politicians who are in their offices right now doing (and I mean DOING) everything they can to pull our country out of recession. You may think that they are not doing enough but at least they are not sitting around, ranting against anyone who has any real power. I have met most of them (including Lord Davies and David Cameron) and can assure you that they are not easily bullied. To answer Philip – people support think tanks on the basis that they are adding value to the debate. I don’t care how much “sexism” is posted on this site (free speech and all that) but this is just old and tired and the debate has moved on. And to respond to Mike’s comment about his daughters; research shows that women do perform better than men earlier in their careers. That, in fact, is true and it is all credit to him as a father that they are doing so well.

  11. Posted 26/04/2012 at 09:28 | Permalink

    Dear Feminist Entrepreneur – Would you please be specific about the points you feel are obvious? MB’s work is new and refreshing in its bringing light and air to a rather fetid and “closed in” process in my opinion. I would very much welcome the opportunity to debate with you in an open and direct way the issues around this very important topic – will you please make your case? It does nothing to add to the discussion to slag off the author and other contributors – lets have an intelligent and challenging discussion and see what emerges. By the way, I have two daughters, both of whom have two university degrees and who have for many years supported and assisted those less fortunate. Like MB, I am very proud of them. My youngest daughter has two sons – hence my motivation to challenge Feminism – I don’t want them growing up in a Feminist world that denegrates men and boys. SO …. lets hear your arguments … let the debate commence!!!

  12. Posted 26/04/2012 at 09:50 | Permalink

    Dear Female entrepreneur – I don’t think the points are obvious at all except to those who specialise in that field (and the main objective of the IEA is to make more widely known economic reseach of interest to non-specialists, it is why we exist). Certainly it is widely held that banks would have performed better with more women on the board and my own business school is running various events that make these sorts of statements in their publicity. Anyhow, to move on…I am not sure who you are, of course, but the IEA is publishing a magazine from next year. I would be perfectly happy to have a two page spread (about 800 words or one page from each of two people) putting the economic evidence and case for and against the government’s approach. I am sure Mike would be happy to re-edit the blog for his part and if you wish to make an economic case for the government’s approach we would publish both together. The important thing is that BOTH pieces use ECONOMIC arguments as we are an economics think tank. Publication would not be until February 2013. Do email me if you want to reveal who you are and you are interested.

  13. Posted 26/04/2012 at 10:20 | Permalink

    @female entrepreneur – thank you for your further comments. A few thoughts. Not only has the ‘debate’ on GDITB not ‘moved on’, there hasn’t been a debate. The only perspectives heard by the British business and political classes (and the general public, come to that) have been pro-GDITB, coming from organisations (e.g. the 30 percent club, the Professional Boards Forum, Catalyst… and many others) which reliably seek relentless special treatment for women in this area (and others). The business community has surrendered in the face of implied threats to direct adverse publicity at companies resisting GDITB. Both Lord Davies (a Labour peer, lest we forget) and David Cameron hold firmly left-wing views in this area, among others, so we have the spectacle of a Conservative-led coalition seeking to ENFORCE GDITB through the threat of quotas, something Labour shied away from doing during its long term in office (1997-2010). I am somewhat confused by your personal position, perhaps you could clarify it? In your earlier post you stated my points about GDITB are ‘accepted by most professional business women’, but in your latest post you defend GDITB. By your own admission, therefore, you’re not representing senior business women. You keep referring to ‘ranting’. Who, precisely, is ‘ranting? I can find no evidence of it. This seems to me to be just another example of seeking to stifle dissenting voices with a shaming tactic. I herewith invite you, or any other proponents of GDITB including feminist ‘academics’, to debate the topic with me on national television or radio. Or we could submit ‘for’ and against’ articles to leading newspapers.

  14. Posted 26/04/2012 at 11:22 | Permalink

    To female entrepreneur”; Why have you dismissed Mr Buchanan’s GDITB analysis with feminist shaming and guilt-inducing tactics to stifle debate or dissent ?. Your dismissive, misandrous and sexist comments are mere platitudes and have no intellectual strength whatsoever, which is disappointing, and i would urge you to contribute with a robust intellectual and scientific basis for your response, if you have one. I too would like to hear the evidence that substantiates how Mike Buchanan is wrong, and why.What have you got to lose?, . I have a daughter and I want her to go out into the world and achieve things without the overweening child-like sense of entitlement and victimhood favoured by feminists simply because they are female. I would also ask you, why just daughters?. What about our sons, who would lose out because GDITB would favour women not on merit, but at the expense of men, based on a left –wing social engineering experiment.

  15. Posted 26/04/2012 at 12:04 | Permalink

    I have blogged on this topic before and largely agree with Mike. It is a pity that the discussion has become a little intemperate.
    Although the case for this policy has not been made I doubt that the semi-forced introduction of a few female non-execs can do much harm. But under the heading of diversity, why stop there? Why not impose Davies-style targets for minority ethnic groups, people with disabilities, people with minority sexual orientations and all the other groups protected under equality legislation?
    And this is only one of many areas where outsiders tell companies what they should be doing – from executive pay, to green issues, to all sorts of wider issues of “corporate social responsibility”. All these risk companies taking their eye off the economic ball to court favour with lobbyists and politicians.

  16. Posted 26/04/2012 at 15:12 | Permalink

    Len, it’s great to hear from you. I am of course familiar with your blogs on this topic, which I’ve always enjoyed. You make a very good point about ‘other minority groups’. Why are women,uniquely, being advanced in this way? I suggest it’s a combination of men’s deference towards women, a fear of a backlash from women as consumers who might potentially be persuaded by militant feminist organisations to exercise their spending power (e.g. by avoiding certain retailers and other businesses), combined with political expediency. The ‘female entrepreneur’ highlighted David Cameron as someone who wouldn’t be easily bullied. He doesn’t have to be bullied, all his political instincts are pro-feminist. He was, after all, the first Conservative leader to introduce all-women prospective parliamentary candidate shortlists, in preparation for the 2010 general election, using for the purpose Harriet Harman’s 2008 legislation to do so. The possibility of al-women PPC shortlists had not of course been mentioned in Labour’s 2005 party manifesto. Feminism is resolutely undemocratic, and the media is complicit. There has been no critique of the dire impact of feminism on British society on television or radio in my lifetime, to the best of my knowledge,and I’m 54. I resigned my membership of the Conservatives the day of Camerons announcement – I’d worked for the party as a consultant over 2006-8 – and I later published ‘David and Goliatha: David Cameron – heir to Harman?’ Cameron is relentlessly pro-women and anti-men in his pronouncements and policy directions.

    Hopefully I have not personally been intemperate, but I confess to sharing the frustration of others at the response of GDITB proponents whenever challenged. They either ignore you completely – this is the default position of women’s campaigning organisations in general, and of feminist ‘academics’ in particular – or they use emotive language from the outset, and seek to stifle debate by relying on men’s chivalry, their hard-wired disinclination to challenge women who appear upset or angry. What these women NEVER do is engage in rational debate. So here we have a grave threat to UK plc which has never had ANY public debate, to the best of my knowledge. Even right-of-centre newspapers are reluctant to seriously tackle gender political issues. In an earlier comment I suggested that £100 million of public money be given to a group of women to buy a company, and then run it. Someone has suggested a better idea. Why don’t all the many well-off women who contend that women would run businesses more successfuly than men, each contribute (say) £10,000 to a fund to acquire a company and then run it as they wish. They could have 100% female boards, 50% female, whatever they wanted. The reason this will never happen? Women wouldn’t risk their personal wealth in this way. They’re very happy for company shareholders and long-suffering taxpayers to risk THEIR money by financing the GDITB experiment.

    In an earlier comment I mentioned Swayne O’Pie’s book, ‘Why Britain Hates Men: Exposing Feminism’. In it he terms militant feminism – the form of feminism which has been in the ‘driving seat’ for 30 years – Socialism’s ‘Trojan Horse’. It’s a perceptive insight. Why is British business inviting the Trojan Horse through the gates?

  17. Posted 26/04/2012 at 16:27 | Permalink

    I think MB’s comment about taxpayers money is a point well made – after all it is men who pay the VAST majority of tax ………. so, a perfect target for Feminists sense of “Entitlement”. As ever, it is men who must pay.

  18. Posted 26/04/2012 at 19:33 | Permalink

    Thank you Mike for raising this topic.
    Quotas are nonsense, and are a subtle way to discriminate against men without making too much noise.

    Quotas in the board are just a nonsense and it is amazing how feminism is able to set on political agenda such idiot stuff such Gender Pay Gap, Glass Ceiling, and so on.

    Companies endorse quotas, among the workforce just for few basic reasons:
    1 they are forced to by law
    2 quotas allow enterprises to access more easily public funds
    3 represent a tool for lobbying at political level
    4 are a tool for employees turnover

    Quotas at board level cover only the first three reasons.

    I do not love that much statistics, A. Einstein stated that “statistic is the science of the dumbs”.
    But let’s assume that a statistic “proves” that companies with a larger proportion of women perform better than other with less women in the board..

    Someone pointed out correctly that if that was the case companies would already have done it, but it is a too intelligent statement to repeat it, so Ill take another perspective, stemming from my reminiscence of syllogism. So it goes:

    If it is true that women on board will make companies better performers,being this a gender and not an individual trait, companies would quickly adopt gender quotas thus annihilating competitors advantages thus demonstrating that quotas does not represent a tool for performing better. So it is inherently a non sense.

    BTW, you may wonder why the proponent of quotas do not for advocate for 100% female board. Simply because misandry has to spilled slowly….

    If you haven’t got the syllogism, most likely you have been taken on board thanks to quotas…

  19. Posted 26/04/2012 at 19:54 | Permalink

    HELP!!! I am wondering about getting some idea of the size of what is being risked in this non-commercial social engineering. I am looking for stats on the FTSE 100 companies (T/over, profits, tax, employees – and market capitalisation) … but have not been able to find an accessible source of this data. Can anyone help? I unearthed some info on Wikipedia which shows the Market valuation of the TOP 10 UK companies as UKP886,000,000,000 in March 2011. … and YES, I have checked the zeros! and there are 90 more companies for the rest of the 100 and 340 … and so on. The direct Corporation Tax and direct Local Taxes must be huge, to which can be added employees Income Tax and NI and the whole multiplied up to reflect spending in the UK economy …. say 3 times? Whatever the final number it is going to be a HUGE – and the government is pushing to, specifically, have unqualified women “learning on the job” in the most strategic and senior positions possible. Gosh.

  20. Posted 27/04/2012 at 05:47 | Permalink

    On topic

    NEW YORK — Protesters swarmed the entrance to Facebook’s Madison Avenue offices in New York City on Wednesday to deliver a petition with 53,000 signatures asking the world’s largest social network to add women to its all-male board ahead of its public offering.
    “Shame on Facebook,” chanted the more than two dozen men and women brandishing signs declaring “‘Like’ Women on the Board” and “Facebook: Women Are Good for Business.” One protester, Anne Cardinez, called on Facebook’s female members to boycott the social network every Monday until the company adds at least one woman to its board.

  21. Posted 27/04/2012 at 09:54 | Permalink

    Fabrizio, thanks. The Facebook story illustrates well one of the prime drivers of GDITB: the chronic childishness of some women, especially those with no understanding of how business works. How many of the 53,000 signatories have the slightest clue as to the qualities required to be a board director of Facebook, or the relative numbers of men and women with those qualities? And why do successful male entrepreneurs hugely outnumber successful female entrpreneurs (unsuccessful ones, too)? Maybe because men tend to be less risk-averse than women, and accept that becoming an entrepreneur entails a risk of financial ruin in the event of failure? Only female would-be entrepreneurs seek government backing (i.e. for taxpayers to take on the risk of their failure). When Labour came to power in 1997 Harriet Harman announed that Labour would ‘invest’ millions of pounds in female entrepreneurs’ schemes. Hmm, I wonder how that initiative worked out? Female would-be entrepreneurs want the possibility of wealth without the risk of financial destitution. A bit like marriage, then.

  22. Posted 27/04/2012 at 10:10 | Permalink

    Mike – I have been closely involved in this debate for many years but have never heard of you (or your work) before. A cursory glance at Amazon reveals an author of the same name who appears to write books displaying garish covers of quite ridiculous looking women along with something against marriage. I’m sure you are far more serious than that Mike and I promise I will look again.
    Doris – I’ve learnt a new word; Misandry. I’ve never met a “man hating woman”, nor anyone who would describe themselves as a feminist so can’t help there.
    Tony – a correction. The title is FEMALE entrepreneur not FEMINIST entrepreneur. I note you run a site replete with cartoon man shaped blobs riven with kitchen knives, so wonder if this is the sorry work of those “women hating men” Doris is so concerned about.
    Len – I’ve read Mind the Gap (referred to by Prof Myddelton) and it makes some valid points but, like the 2007 McKinsey work quoted by Mike is a little old now – just retrieved my copy and the more recent datasets end in 2007. Time for some more research perhaps? – it would be very welcome. Not quite sure where you and Fabrizio are going on quotas as you must be aware that research shows that most professional women are quite firmly against the idea.
    And Philip – I am intrigued to learn that the IEA requested a blog of this nature from Mike Buchanan but I have also been the grateful recipient of your business school’s hospitality and appreciate their professional interest in the subject. I would be delighted to make an ECONOMIC case so if someone would be so kind as to send me your contact details I will get in touch.

  23. Posted 27/04/2012 at 11:45 | Permalink

    @femaleentrepreneur – The idea was submitted; I gave the author some guidelines; the result was a report of an interesting piece of economic evidence that suggests that regulation in this area is inappropriate; and it seemed perfectly reasonable to publish it. I am still not sure exactly what you mean by your point. “I will no longer be supporting the IEA” (in what way have you and why not in the future? Is it because the newest evidence available on this issue was published in 2007 and there is no newer evidence and we decided to publish a blog post on it? Or is it because we do not censor comments on the blog? I am very puzzled). Certainly, the main points in Len’s monograph would not be changed by new research – though the distortions to the stats caused by the high amount of public sector employment (and its expansion and coming contraction might be worth investigating). My email address is (replace at with @). The ground rules would be the same for any blog post on this issue. Any post, must be a reasoned piece with economic policy implications. If you think that most women are against quotas, then I am not sure exactly what your policy conclusion is. What are you going to be making the economic case for? I mentioned a blog in favour of the government’s approach, but the government’s approach is for targets and then quotas if they do not meet those targets. But, you say you are against quotas.

  24. Posted 27/04/2012 at 11:54 | Permalink

    Hello Female Entrepreneur

    Delighted that you are going to put an economic case……that’s progress and I look forward to reading it. If you have not come across sexism or misandrous feminist women or even the word misandry I assume that you must lead a very charmed life, not read their books, not read the newspapers or look on the websites of pro feminist groups. I can assure you that I am not in the slightest “concerned” about “women hating men” I merely treat them with indifference. Following the comic and irrational rhetoric of the 1970’s feminists they went under the radar to achieve their goals which is why perhaps you havent noticed them. I am surprised that you question why this blog was requested. The IEA should be commended for publishing the blog from Mr Buchanan as it illustrates yet again why they are such a well respected organisation because they are and its audience are interested in hearing alternative and balanced views and not just one sided feminist propaganda.

  25. Posted 27/04/2012 at 11:54 | Permalink

    Female entrepreneur, thank you. My book ‘The Fraud of the Rings’ is irrelevant to the topic of GDITB, but for the record it explores why so many marriages end in divorce, and why many of the marriages which don’t end in divorce are still unhappy. I don’t see how this exploration is ‘against’ marriage, it’s more an open-minded critique, which is the approach I take when critiquing feminism in general and GDITB in particular.
    If you’ve genuinely never met a ‘man hating woman’ nor a person terming themselves a feminist you must be unique, and I again recommend ‘Why Britain Hates Men: Exposing Feminism’.
    If you look at my blog you will see that I have invited many pro-GDITB organisations and proponents to supply the ecomomic case for GDITB and none have ever provided it. Most of the studies supposedly showing a causal link between GDITB and improved corporate performance confuse correlation with causation. My objection is to anything that preferences any groups, and opposes meritocracy.
    Finally, if you’re not a supporter of GDITB, what precisely is it you’re advocating? Given this blog is intended to generate a long-overdue debate about GDITB, I’m unclear at what your position is.

  26. Posted 27/04/2012 at 12:37 | Permalink

    @Female entrepreneur or whatever is you real name, I did not get what you mean with
    “Not quite sure where you and Fabrizio are going on quotas as you must be aware that research shows that most professional women are quite firmly against the idea”

    I personally do not want to go anywhere on quotas, but I believe that you are very badly informed about this topic.So please stick to what I state, not what you assume are my beliefs.

    Regarding the statement that “most professional women are against this idea”, I tend to agree with you, for my humble personal experience.

    When it comes to quotas in board, this topic simply shouldn’t even be on the table of discussions as other things. But as like as other little feminist topics, this is not only running on a blog but there are laws that are going to be implemented all around Europe; almost surely board women quotas will be law in Italy and a common recommendation at EU level.

    If we are not aware that “most professional women are against this idea” then we are not alone. The EU commission ignore it as well, as most of the parliaments around.

    Final words; if you want to compete fairly, do learn to challenge ideas on the ground of logic and facts, not trying to undermining the credibility of the adverse party.

  27. Posted 27/04/2012 at 13:13 | Permalink

    A quick comment on the government’s position on quotas for GDITB, outlined on numerous occasions by David Cameron and other senior politicians. They threaten quotas if major businesses don’t ‘improve’ GDITB ‘voluntarily’, giving an Orwellian slant to the term ‘voluntarily’. It’s akin to a mugger asking you to hand over your wallet ‘voluntarily’, then explaining ever-so-politely that if you don’t hand it over, he’ll assault you. Cameron and his colleagues should be ashamed of themselves.
    The government’s continuing threat of quotas is having its desired effect, and the number of female directors is on the rise. Since most of these women are non-executive directors it will arguably damage these businesses less than if they were executive directors. But what a gravy-train this is for women who wouldn’t reach the boardroom on the grounds of merit (or they’d already have done so). And what a gravy-train for taxpayer-funded feminist academics as well as private sector recruitment agencies, employers’ organisations, and many others. It’s a mystery why the shareholders of major corporations aren’t up in arms at this left-wing ideological assault on their investments. Perhaps the gender diversity delusion extends to them too.

  28. Posted 27/04/2012 at 16:51 | Permalink

    “increase risk taking, as do board changes that result in a higher proportion of female executives [my emphasis].”

    Well of course. Both men and women take more risks in mixed sex environments than they do in single sex ones.

    Yes, men take more risks than women (all of these are on average of course) but women take more risks in a mixed sex environment than they do in a single and men take more risks in a mixed sex environment than they do in a single.

    Which leads us to the absolutely delightful conclusion that they way to reduce risk in banking is to ban women (or men if you prefer) from employment. Even, that the loading on of risk of the past 40 years has been a result of women entering the profession.

  29. Posted 27/04/2012 at 18:21 | Permalink

    @femalentrepreneur … I have noted many times that “slagging off” and personal attack is a bog standard and well documented feminist response to ANY challenge and, clearly, does nothing to move any sensible debate forward. I have done a very, very rough “fag packet” guesstimate that the FTSE 100 market capitalisation will be in the very rough order of UKP 1,500,000,000,000 and so (for the sake of discussion) let’s say the FTSE 350 would be in the order of UKP 2,500,000,000,000. This is the likely scale of numbers directly at risk, significantly, I suspect, held in pension funds – even women’s pension funds. The UK is now officially in recession – the worst recession in living memory – and a “double dip” recession with economy wrecking demons lurking around outside our control in the deeply troubled Eurozone, an emerging property bubble burst in China and the real teeth of this government’s policies yet to fully sink into the cut backs planned for the next few years. As MB has pointed out, the reality is that we have government imposed “Quotas” to foist SPECIFICALLY, WOMEN even without necessary “sector expertise” and without “proven financial responsibility” (Davies, P.14) to the most senior and strategic positions and at the most crucial positions in the UK economy. They will assume direct responsibility for some UKP 2.5 TRILLION and will be charged with “LEARNING ON THE JOB”! In addition, these Quotas are being imposed when the only demonstrable cases (Norway and DB) are for this mandate to bring about, on its own, a marked deterioration in corporate performance, an increase in poor quality decision making and poor judgement all resulting in a diminution of shareholder value – which strikes at the very heart and “reason to be” of a commercial organisation (see MB Blog above). This is IN ADDITION to the dire national and international context in which this is being forced through. The 250 or so female executives actually in place in the FTSE 350 companies demonstrate that “those that can, do” – and also “those that can’t, threaten and shame politicians into imposing Quotas” for their own, narrow self interest. Perhaps, Ms Female Entrepreneur, in the absence of any self disclosure, you have been unable to qualify for a senior appointment to date or see yourself on a “Gravy Train” in recruitment, specialist advice and other services? In my case (as Man) I recognise its because I’m not good enough. For Woman, it’s simply an affront to her deeply nurtured sense of Entitlement. “Diversity” is not Woman – in fact the cosy clubs proposed merely create an “Old Girls Club” – with all the closed in and restrictive revulsion that such an abhorrence entails. And then there is the hoary question of what is “Equality” – especially when the differences in gendered behaviour and motivations are considered? “Equality” is not Quotas – unless all men’s circumstances are considered – and that includes the other end of the scale where there are overwhelming numbers of men committing suicide or left to rot in homelessness, addiction and early death. This, in part, is the collective price Man pays for the competitive drive that produces both the startling superlatives (to both create and drive the “350” forward) and also the abject despair of failure. They are the two sides of the same coin. So, lets have wider Quotas to equal Man – 4 times more female suicides, 100 times more female vagrants and 1000 times more female chronic addicts and so on as the collective price Woman needs to pay for Quotas in Boardroom. No? I thought not. “Man” excels at the very bottom and at the very, very top – and this is the inspiring beauty of Man. “Woman” excels in mediocrity (The Woman Racket/S. Moxon). There is no room for mediocrity in our crucial “350” Boardrooms in these difficult times.

  30. Posted 27/04/2012 at 18:57 | Permalink

    I feel the IEA has stolen a march on the FT by opening this important debate. The FT has a commercial activity entitled “The FT Non-Executive Directors’ Club” – that recently ran a conference on this subject. I have sent the following to the organiser – ……….Mike Buchanan was invited to present a blog on the IEA website entitled -“The gender diversity delusion” (ref GDITB) … Some interesting points are being made –
    but nothing that actually meets Mike’s challenge to demonstrate anything other than a NEGATIVE causal effect for imposing quotas on our top companies. In fact most comments seem to be against quotas. I bring this fascinating insight to your attention in case you may not be aware that it is taking place and with a view that your particular place in relation to the FT Non-Exec Directors Club and relevant Conferences and Training Programmes would provide you with a unique position to put the “For” case cogently and comprehensively. It seems to me that the IEA has actually had something of a coup in opening this subject for discussion and for providing a forum for all views to be opened and debated.
    Best wishes, Stan Tall

  31. Posted 27/04/2012 at 19:19 | Permalink

    The 30PerCentClub is solely concerned with achieving these quotas. I have sent the following – ….. The IEA has asked Mr Mike Buchanan to open and debate the issues around quotas of women on the top companies in the UK – a matter central to your organisation, I believe. There has been some interesting exchanges – pretty much contrary to the imposition of such quotas and nothing that actually meets Mike’s challenge to show positive causal effect. I draw this fascinating exchange to your attention so that the depth of the debate can be opened by your specialist knowledge and expertise and years of campaigning and lobbying. I very much look forward to seeing the powerful and cogent arguments that will redress the “against” views that have so far proliferated in this respected and influential blog. Very best wishes. Stan Tall

  32. Posted 27/04/2012 at 21:40 | Permalink

    Why has no one from the Governmenet, CBI, Institute of Directors, Fawsett Society, EU , Professional Boards Forum etc not considered it important to justify their case for special treatment for women at the expense of men as they have so robustly campaigned for this initiative despite all the reasearched evidence and objective appraisals appearing negative.This initiative could have a very serious negative impact on the corporate business sector therefore the absense of an itellectual and scientific counter argument from them appears somewhat sinister.The IEA has definately had a coup with this and I do hope that all or some of the above organisations put their heads above the parapet and challenge Mr Buchanan’s prognosis and if they can show evidence that proves that they are right and he is wrong I assume that they will…….soon.

  33. Posted 27/04/2012 at 21:56 | Permalink

    @female entrepreneur – I have been in touch with the FT and The 30% Club with a view that they may enter and add to this important debate. I notice you have offered to share your understanding and information to interested parties. Would you please add my email as a recipient – – replace at with @. Many thanks – and I very much look forward to taking this discussion further. Best wishes.

  34. Posted 29/04/2012 at 10:22 | Permalink

    IEA blogs are sent to thousands of individuals interested in economic issues. Since this blog was posted five days ago, not a single commentator has come forward to defend the GDITB initiative. Given that the government’s threat of quotas for more women in British boardrooms stems from official support of GDITB, this lack of debate is disturbing. It’s become clear that the principle of meritocracy in business has to be fought for, both for the sake of the business sector and all who are employed in it, and others who benefit from it either directly (e.g. shareholders) or indirectly (e.g. recipients of benefits partly paid for by corporation tax receipts). I’m today launching the Campaign for Merit in Business (‘CMB’) with the following open letter to the Prime Minister:

    Dear Mr Cameron,
    Along with many other Conservative voters – and many non-Conservative voters – I continue to despair of the coalition’s relentless pursuit of the anti-male militant feminist agendas of the preceding Labour administration. I am writing about one of those agendas, the drive for ‘improved’ gender diversity in the boardroom (henceforth ‘GDITB’). Given that you saw fit to appoint a Labour peer – Lord Davies of Abersoch – to review GDITB, we shouldn’t be surprised by your pushing a feminist agenda onto the private sector, the only wealth-creating sector in the country. You’re pushing this agenda through your continuing threat of quotas if businesses don’t ‘voluntarily’ increase GDITB, knowing that the threat alone forces businesses to appoint more token women without the required experience and expertise. But quotas for any group are an assault on the principle of meritocracy, and Conservative voters in particular find them both condescending and offensive.
    You frequently make the assertion of a positive causal link between more women on boards and improved business performance. Independent researchers – i.e. not feminist ideologues – know of no such positive link, indeed the only two independent studies on the matter show a negative link, as I outline in my blog and in my recent blog piece for The Institute of Economic Affairs: Since the latter blog was posted on 24 April, over 30 comments have been published. Not one is in support of GDITB, and one (female) commentator admits that the majority of senior business women oppose GDITB.
    Anyone who reads Swayne O’Pie’s ‘Why Britain Hates Men: Exposing Feminism’, Steve Moxon’s ‘The Woman Racket’, or my own book ‘The Glass Ceiling Delusion’, will understand why only a small minority of board directors are female. Many of the explanations relate to the differences between men’s and women’s freely made choices. The campaign for GDITB implies that harming the performance of the business sector is a price worth paying for extending yet more special treatment to women. Given that GDITB will reduce shareholder returns and government’s corporation tax receipts, a reasoned debate is long overdue.
    I would ask you or your advisers to provide evidence of the asserted positive causal link between GDITB and corporate performance by Friday 11 May, possibly by means of a comment on the IEA blog. In the meantime I am copying this letter to numerous other proponents of GDITB (attached), the vast majority of whom I’ve already contacted, and who between them have provided not a shred of evidence for the positive link they so confidently and frequently assert. I shall be asking them again for that evidence.
    If you’re unable to provide the evidence requested, you’ll effectively be admitting that you have no evidence to support your policy of increasing the number of women on corporate boards. I would then ask you to issue a statement withdrawing your threat of quotas for more women on the boards of British businesses, and for an assurance that the government will cease bullying British businesses into carrying out actions they judge not in the best interests of their companies and shareholders. Thank you.
    I have posted a copy of this letter on both my blog and the IEA blog.

    Yours etc.

    Copies of this letter have been mailed or emailed to:

    The Rt Hon David Cameron MP

    The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
    The Rt Hon Lynne Featherstone MP


    Neil Carberry, Director for Employment and Skills

    Helena Morrissey, Founder

    Elin Hurvenes, Founder and Director
    Jane Scott, UK Director

    Professor Susan Vinnicombe, Director
    Dr Ruth Sealy, Deputy Director

    Ceri Goddard, Chief Executive

    Denise Keating, Chief Executive
    Dan Robertson, Diversity & Inclusion Director
    Alan Beazley, Policy & Research Specialist


    Ilene H Lang, President & Chief Executive Officer
    Nancy H Carter
    Michael Chamberlain
    Jan Combopiano
    Jennifer Daniel-Davidson
    Deborah Gillis
    Katherne Giscombe
    Eleanor Tabi Haller-Jorden
    Meryle Mahrer Kaplan
    Susan Nierenberg
    Anabel Pérez
    Jeanine Prime
    Emma Sabin
    Deborah M Soon
    Brande Stellings

  35. Posted 29/04/2012 at 22:48 | Permalink

    To respond to Philip – I used to support the IEA because it was credible, but using 2007 research to justify a critique of current policy proposals is just sloppy. Didn’t you even THINK of asking McKinsey if they had done something more recent? That would have been a start. And, is supporting such an important issue with out of date research, presented by an author who decorates his books with images of women with contorted expressions, fangs, “devil eyes”, scaly skin…I don’t think I need to go on, the cleverest editorial decision you have made in your career? I know you won’t take my word for it, so just run that one by your professor colleagues at your esteemed business school. Go on – I’d love to hear their feedback. And in response to Mike and chums – have you ever thought that this may be why the organisations you keep naming on this blog are not keen to engage? Vile images of women may well excite you guys, but they have a tendency to alienate most people in a modern civilized society. They may well be effective in selling books of a particular genre, but I think you will find that reputable organisations and individuals are generally inclined to distance themselves from such material as, of course, am I.

  36. Posted 30/04/2012 at 06:26 | Permalink

    quoted “I think you will find that reputable organisations and individuals are generally inclined to distance themselves from such material”

    no comment

    “Vile images of women may well excite you guys, but they have a tendency to alienate most people in a modern civilized society”

    no comment

    Someone has issues on staying on topic, and keep coherence.

  37. Posted 30/04/2012 at 06:44 | Permalink

    @female entrepreneur, thank you for your post. The 2007 McKinsey report is irrelevant to my case – I simply used it to introduce the topic of GDITB – but I too hope the IEA asks them for up-to-date evidence to support the case for GDITB. I have no doubt that McKinsey will be unable to provide evidence of the positive causal link, because… how best to put this?… the evidence doesn’t exist. I’m sorry to see you resort to criticism of my book covers to criticise my thesis. A predictable diversionary tactic. If the covers were more acceptable to you, would you then (for once) respond to the thesis itself? My search for evidence to support GDITB pre-dates my books – so potential providers of supporting evidence wouldn’t have been deterred by the covers – and my search continues to the present day. On I relate my communication with Professor John Van Reenen, a Professor in the Department of Economics, and Director of the Centre for Economic Performance, at the London School of Economics. Two months ago I emailed him concerning the open letter I’d sent to the Director General of the CBI, John Cridland, concerning the CBI’s position in this area (see earlier post on my blog). I asked Professor Van Reenen whether the LSE (or specifically the Centre for Economic Performance) had any evidence of a causal link between increasing the proportion of women in the boardroom, and enhanced corporate performance: and if he did, could he kindly share it with me, because I’ve been seeking such evidence for years without finding any. Professor Van Reenen emailed me the following: ‘I personally don’t know of any such evidence, and I am sceptical that there would be a positive causal effect’. You seem to doubt that ‘reputable organisations and individuals’ might support my thesis. I’ve never received any criticism from ‘reputable organisations and individuals’, but I’ve had support from a number. I offer you just a few of the testimonials for my key book on this topic, THE GLASS CEILING DELUSION? Peter Saunders Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Sussex University: ‘THE GLASS CEILING DELUSION attacks head-on the militant feminist myth that men and women have the same interests and capabilities. Reviewing a wide range of evidence, he shows that the under-representation of women in senior positions in business has nothing to do with discrimination and ‘glass ceilings’, and that attempts to impose quotas are therefore fundamentally flawed. A polemical book with an important message’. Glenn Wilson Visiting Professor of Psychology, Gresham College, London: ‘Equality of opportunity is a fine thing but equality of outcome is another matter entirely. There is little doubt that men and women have, on average, different talents and interests that make gender quotas in the workplace unfair and impractical. THE GLASS CEILING DELUSION is a welcome, well-argued addition to the debate about whether women should be pushed up the social ladder just because they are women, and thus at a presumed disadvantage. This is rather an insult to women and Margaret Thatcher, for one, would not have agreed. Individuals should be treated as individuals, not as members of a particular race, class or gender. Whatever the historic injustices, this is the only way that social structures can evolve naturally’. Professor Miles Groth PhD Editor, NEW MALE STUDIES: AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL: ‘At long last, someone has taken on the myth of discrimination against women who aspire to senior positions in business, including the boardrooms of major corporations. THE GLASS CEILING DELUSION demythologizes each of thirty elements the author has identified of the now generally accepted claim that women are discriminated against in the world of white-collar work. Much has been accomplished recently in disclosing the half-truths about women and domestic violence, for example, but Buchanan illuminates an area that other critics of ideological feminism have not considered. Buchanan’s analysis is based partly on his experience of working as an executive for major British and American multinational corporations for over 30 years until 2010. His book should inspire research on settings of corporate power everywhere. Always witty and sometimes even biting in style, Buchanan’s text is grounded in important texts in psychobiology, sociology, history and politics. It is an impassioned yet not angry argument that deserves the careful attention of policy-makers and a general readership.’

  38. Posted 30/04/2012 at 07:56 | Permalink

    @femaleentrepreneur – I am interested in economic debate and education whereas you seem to be interested in impressions. I am perfectly happy to post a blog that supports regulation with regard to this issue (despite that not promoting our mission) if you are able to find the evidence to write such a post. The idea that data is somehow irrelevant because it was collected only up until 2007 is ridiculous. But, if there is some later evidence that contradicts this blog, please let us know. I am still very puzzled by your position. You seem to be saying simultaneously:

    1. the research is out of date
    2. the government has taken the research on board and is taking it on board
    3. you don’t support regulation
    4. new research might say something different so we should not publish research based on 2007 data
    5. you think the government is doing a fine job here (though the government supports regulation if persuasion changes nothing).

    We are trying to run an economic policy blog so, checking the book covers of blog authors is not something we tend to do before making posts. But, your main point is that we should have looked for newer evidence. If that newer evidence is there and it provides different results from the existing evidence please tell us. The ball is very much in your court.

  39. Posted 30/04/2012 at 08:34 | Permalink

    Good morning, female entrepreneur. I assume that you have your reasons for the diversionary tactics in your latest blog, however the relevant evidence in this debate is not the McKinsey report, but the more recent research findings in the University of Michigan report and the Bundesbank report.
    I trust that you would subscribe to the view that ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’. If you read The Glass Ceiling Delusion you’ll find it’s a well researched contribution for those with an open mind who are interested in meritocracy, democracy, and hearing both sides of this argument.
    A modern civilised and democratic society will listen to all sides of a debate, and it’s notable that other objectors to GDITB have faced the same response as Mr. Buchanan: being ignored, or shamed, or rubbished, or faced with guilt-inducing diversionary tactics. Everything, in fact, except reasoned evidence-based arguments.
    You won’t succeed in your continuing efforts to tarnish the strong reputation of the IEA. It has a long and distinguished history of providing insightful analysis on subjects of economic importance, of which this is one. By resorting to attacks on the IEA you damage only your own credibility.
    In an earlier comment you said you’d been ‘closely involved in this debate for many years’. Let me then ask you the obvious question. What is YOUR evidence in support of GDITB?

  40. Posted 01/05/2012 at 08:47 | Permalink

    Is there not even one subscriber to IEA blogs who can furnish any evidence of a positive causal link between GDITB and enhanced corporate performance?

  41. Posted 01/05/2012 at 09:07 | Permalink

    I am not going to spell out all the latest findings to a self-published author on a blog of this nature, nor do your work for you Philip. In any event, the need to protect my own professional credibility prevents me from any real engagement with you guys. However, I am rather surprised that the IEA needs to rely on an anonymous blogger in order to defend the Government’s position. With all your great contacts and influence in Westminster, surely there was someone a little closer to the centre of power you could turn to? Even a disaffected back bencher would do – they have no fear of speaking out nowadays. And for the benefit of the other contributors on this site – I have never sought (nor gained) Government backing for any of my businesses, nor have I failed to qualify for a senior appointment. I can also assure you that I am not involved in any type of enterprise which seeks to gain pecuniary advantage from this issue. Unlike you Mike.

  42. Posted 01/05/2012 at 10:59 | Permalink

    And to answer your specific question Mike, check out this site and you will find that there are very few subscribers to IEA blogs. As I said earlier, the debate has moved on and no-one serious will go near you. Better luck next time.

  43. Posted 01/05/2012 at 11:30 | Permalink

    Most posts get around 5,000 views. Why the enthusiasm to engage in prolonged ad hoc discussions about “debate moving on”, “nobody serious will go near you” and so on but a complete reluctance to provide some evidence? I would be genuinely interested in evidence that companies are missing out on something here because they are discriminating and performing poorly as a result. We set up an economics blog in the hope that people would say “no, you are wrong because the theory and/or evidence says this” rather than “nobody is interested in your views because you self-publish books with wierd cover designs.” I am afraid that I would find very few disaffected back benchers who would be keen on regulation in this area and they are not really good people from whom to get information about theoretical and empirical economic debates (they normally come to us!).

  44. Posted 01/05/2012 at 12:08 | Permalink

    @Female entrepreneur
    – quoted –
    “the need to protect my own professional credibility prevents me from any real engagement with you guys.”
    In my country this statement is considered an insult, lady.
    – quoted –
    “I can also assure you that I am not involved in any type of enterprise which seeks to gain pecuniary advantage from this issue.Unlike you Mike”
    Good to know! Mike is going to change his gender status…or maybe I missed the inner subtle interpretation…
    Let’s move on. GDITB laws will be implemented, most likely, but I will not be affected individually and this keeps me calm about it. I’m sure that companies will not perform better, because this is not possible by logic given the mutual dynamic of competing enterprises in an open market; since in relative terms companies cannot perform better simply for an increased women participation (same quotas=same competitive traits=same result), it means that the we are assuming that each company will perform better in absolute terms (against itself), and hence that men are a limiting factor, and this exposes the sexist fuel that is behind GDITB. The good side effect is that we will have few more happy women that were aiming at top position, the bad news is that we will have to redefine the meaning of meritocracy. I only hope that, if gender quotas in board will be adopted, a proper code of conduct will come along, to avoid that such people enforced in board by law, once at C level will advocate for gender-biased topics.

  45. Posted 01/05/2012 at 12:30 | Permalink

    @Philip, I do no agree with you that Femaleentrepreneur has not given evidence of her standing. Quoting her statement “research shows that women do perform better than men earlier in their careers”, that clarify a bit; she does not believe that enforcing quotas in board is her way to go, but she believe that if GDITB is pursued, companies will perform better because women perform better, as simple as that.
    She is just on Machiavelli interpretation of achievements.

  46. Posted 01/05/2012 at 13:11 | Permalink

    Female Entrepreneur :Thank you for providing an excellent case against Gender Diversity In The Boardroom ( GDITB) by your evasion and dismissive comments towards the IEA and any anyone else who didnt agree with your views. A women of substance indeed!.

  47. Posted 01/05/2012 at 14:37 | Permalink

    I come from this world of business that you all seem to know so little about. In that world, personal credibility is all, so someone who “self publishes books with weird cover designs” (your quote Philip) is not worthy of engagement on such an important issue. However, if the IEA would like to find a credible voice on this matter, then I’m sure you will have no problem in generating the serious debate that you appear to seek.

  48. Posted 01/05/2012 at 16:40 | Permalink

    @femaleentrepreneur, thank you for your latest post. You appear to be very devoted to shaming tactics, which frankly doesn’t bother me, but what impact do you imagine they might be having on your credibility as a commentator? In an earlier post I mentioned supporting comments and/or book testimonials from Professor John Van Reenen, Professor Peter Saunders, Professor Glenn Wilson and Professor Miles Groth. The theses in my three books about feminism draw extensively upon the published books of many eminent academics including the following six: None of the books were self-published, and all have very tasteful covers, I’m sure none of them would offend you. Professor Susan Pinker (‘The Sexual Paradox’), Professor Steven Pinker (‘The Blank Slate’), Professor Louann Brizendine (‘The Female Brain’), Christine Hoff Sommers (‘Who Stole Feminism?’ and ‘The War Against Boys’), Daphne Patai (‘Professing Feminism’) and Dr Catherine Hakim (widely regarded as the world’s foremost expert on the topic of women’s relationship with the world of work). There are many more academics (and bestselling writers) I could cite, but will these ten academics suffice for you at this point? Might I ask, who would you put forward as the academic supporter(s) of GDITB? Hopefully they would be prepared to share their evidence with – if not myself – then at least Professor Booth and the IEA? Thank you.

  49. Posted 01/05/2012 at 17:05 | Permalink

    @femaleentrepreneur. In response to your point that we ‘all’ seem to know so little about business. I can’t speak for other commentators in this blog, but my own position on GDITB stems from my 30+ years working as an executive for major British and American companies (I took early retirement in 2010). My experience over 1978-2010 was that both men and women reach the organisational level they can cope with, although I’d say that in the modern era over-promotion is commoner among women than among men, for a number of reasons. Ambitious men and women often fail to progress as far as they’d like, but only the women can enjoy the luxury of indulging the conspiracy theory of gender discrimination – regardless of the reality – and they’ll be encouraged to do so.

  50. Posted 01/05/2012 at 17:19 | Permalink

    Well, I come from another business world, where cognitive capabilities, competence and leadership are all, personal credibility is an outcome not a precondition.
    Different worlds.

  51. Posted 23/07/2012 at 10:52 | Permalink

    I’m a headhunter – I work with FTSE 100 & 250 Chairmen and Chief Execs to hire Executive Directors and Non Executive Directors to boards and operating committees, and sometimes below that as well. I have worked in this field for years and have never heard of Mike Buchanan before stumbling across him on LinkedIn the other day. I didn’t bother reading much of his material; only because it quite quickly became a ranting, somewhat bitter echo of itself – saying the same things over and over about lack of causal evidence linking gender diversity and better company performance etc.

    This is a common means of throwing out the baby with the bathwater; of discrediting and derailing the entire common sense agenda of having more diverse boards because of a lack of empirical evidence to back up one claim. True, this claim of achieved empiricism in linking better company performance with having more women on boards was premature and poorly made by those authoring the reports, and in citation by the government. And I also understand that a focus on gender in isolation isn’t ideal and can be quite annoying (diversity has a much broader definition – diversity means “capable of various forms”), but you have to start somewhere, you have to pull the issue apart and focus on more manageable strands unfortunately, as otherwise its a beast which is too big to wrestle with – hey ho, again, get over it. I wish it wasn’t this way, but it is. (What about the need for boards to represent the geographical diversity they serve, for example. I have been engaged to do just that for one financial services organisation.)

    So get over the slightly irritating focus on women (which most senior women I meet do find somewhat irritating), and get over the (again, irritating) error in linking their presence to proven performance benefits – there’s a much broader, more fundamental issue at play here which has support from nearly all business leaders – making sure those in power – in business or politics – adequately understand, reflect and respond to the socio-cultural changes our world has undergone and is undergoing. Otherwise they become irrelevant; they will fail to bring a range of views to bear to create healthy discourse and challenge in decision making, and our businesses and governments will fail. With women making 80% of purchasing decisions in households, and accounting for OVER 50% of all graduates in this country, how can we truly claim to have the broadest and therefore strongest leadership base with only 12.5% non-male board directors in the FTSE 350? (% figure as per the time of writing Lord Davies report in February 2011).

    Diversity is not about applying misplaced, pappy, neo-liberal notions of fairness to the boardroom. It’s sad and a bit worrying that some apparently intelligent men of today persist in confusing the current agenda with this (most women hate this notion too) and react in this kind of threatened and defensive way (judging by Mike’s ranting). If this were so, the Chairmen and CEOs with whom I work would not tolerate government intervention of ANY kind. They would themselves rise up against it (thought I doubt they would choose images of bullish schoolgirls looking for a fight, or Halloween masks of female zombies for their book or report covers..,. I mean, what?!?!). I have sent a few links to a few FTSE 100 Chairmen and they are horrified that such commentators dare to speak on their behalf: “People such as this take us [business leaders] for fools on this topic – our jobs are to run sustainable businesses which are designed to capitalise on change rather than suffer from it. PLC company boards must evolve faster than they have done, to include more people who don’t look, sound and think the same – our world in which we operate has changed and so must we.”

    What’s more, intelligent leaders of today, whether male or female, will understand that our society in the West is in transition when it comes to gender under the premise “sex is biological; gender is cultural”. Gender identity concerns individuals’ perception of themselves as and identification with being female or male. A gender role is the set of societal expectations that dictates how an individual of a gender should behave, think, and feel. During the past century, perception of all three aspects of gender have changed, particularly that of gender roles. Both men and women and re-navigating our sense of what the gender roles mean collectively and indivually in 21st century, especially in relation to work. This learning process involves understanding how women are held back and hold themselves back in business because of the legacy left by millennia of patriarchy. This has implications for companies wanting to retain a more diverse talent base through to leadership levels. I myself was brought up by parents who thought their daughters should have more responsibility in the house and with the family than the sons, and I have developed feelings of guilt when choosing a career over a home-based life partly because of this type of treatment. But at school I was made aware of it, and at work I was told to challenge any unconscious or conscious judgement made of me in this sense. I have and I do succeed in doing this, but it does add an extra dimension to my working life that I imagine most men would be unaware of, unless told, or perhaps unless they see their daughters experience it. This is subtle stuff which is not a women’s issue but a societal one.

    As a CEO recently wrote to me:”Getting a more balanced board does require a shift in mindset that the boys are less inclined to make because they don’t come face-to-face with why we need it. The shift involves acknowledging subtle cultural schemas with regard to gender roles, which have and do hold women back at work (many holding themselves back according to what they think is required of their roles), leading many to choose other paths when we need more of them to stay in business!”.

    I read in one of Mikes rants that women make choices to stay or leave work, and that we should stop making allowances or advantaging’ them therefore – he’s right, but we must look at the broader cultural foundations we have built which encourage these choices, and figure out if and how we want things to be different.

    Seems like you guys need to accept that most of the world wants a different basis for making choices, even of those choices are the same…. The simple assumption that women “opt out” of the workforce promotes the belief that individuals are in control of their fates and are unconstrained by the environment. This is very, very silly.

  52. Posted 23/07/2012 at 14:48 | Permalink

    Thank you for your contribution to this debate. A few thoughts:

    1. You accuse me at several points of ‘ranting’. I invite you to point to even a single example of this. You’re using a shaming tactic, which only serves to harm your credibility.

    2. We’ve already had one contributor (Female entrepreneur’) who lacked credibility from the outset by not revealing her identity. To be fair, she then proceeded to destroy any credibility she might have had by her comments. People who’ve read her comments are united in the belief that she cannot possibly be a prominent entrepreneur (most doubt she’s even an entrepreneur at all). So why not reveal your own identity? If you truly work with FTSE100 and FTSE250 Chief Executives and Chairmen, why would you want to hide your identity? Until you reveal it, excuse me for doubting that you work in the role you claim.

    3. I invite you also to reveal the identity of the Chief Executive who wrote the letter you claim to have been sent. Do ask him / her first, obviously.

    4. Running throughout your entire comment is a militant feminist thread. I refer readers to such lines as, ‘Women are held back… by millennia of patriarchy’. Can we assume, therefore, that the term ‘man loving’ in your blog name is ironic?

    5. You seem to be denying that men and women willingly make different choices with regards to work. In fact, the evidence that they do so is very robust – Dr Catherine Hakim’s Preference Theory comes inevitably to mind – and I shall be presenting some of it at my presentation at the IEA. I invite you to attend the event and engage in a calm, rational debate on the topic of gender balance in the boardroom, for which your professional role clearly qualifies you. To the best of my knowledge, it will be the first example of such a debate anywhere in the world. It is, to put in mildly, long overdue.

    6. I’m aware of only two studies showing a CAUSAL link between increased representation of women on boards and corporate financial performance, and both show a NEGATIVE link. Theyre the studies cited in my IEA piece. If you’re aware of even one study showing a positive causal link, would you be so good as to share it with the world by referring to it on this blog? And if you cannot do so, are you of the view that damaging companies’ financial performance is a worthwhile price to pay for increasing the number of women on boards?

    7. You might be interested in a recent admission by a leading proponent for more women in the boardroom:

    Have a nice day.

    Mike Buchanan
    [email protected]

  53. Posted 23/07/2012 at 14:54 | Permalink

    I have followed this blog and read with interest the diverse comments made and can find no “ranting” only objective views from a variety of individuals with one notable exception the “Female Entreprenuer” who’s views clearly have no basis in intellectual or scientific argument.

    The platform given by the IEA for this subject would not be allowed if it was for an individual/s to just rant as they have significantly higher satndards than that however they do want robust debate from both sides of the argument.

    Mr Buchanan, like so many other commentators on this subject, is systematically shamed and put down for his views which in a democracy is disgraceful. His detractors should however openly challenge him and the many other men and women who share his views to a public debate where infantile playground shaming tactics are definately put to one side.

  54. Posted 24/07/2012 at 11:26 | Permalink

    In my line of work?? I most definitely do not want to associate myself with Mike Buchanan – my clients confirmed my view on that. Forget his writings and his extremist supporters for a moment – the covers of his books are enough to keep my name well clear, even if the books are great! A shame – if Mike’s visual branding was not so inflammatory, I probably would put my name to this. He might get a more influential audience, too! Gives sympathy to the feminists, a bit of an own goal, eh…. Similarly, if he wasn’t self-published, there may be more credibility there, unfortunately for him. There are so many others out there writing on this topic (many of whom Mike follows I would imagine) who find a publisher to invest in them…..

    By ranting, Doris, I refer to Mike’s broader self-published catalogue which seems to makes the same point over an over about [lack of] causal links, which I accept and actually agree with as I said before, but tired of a while ago. The repetition has a dementing effect. I’m interested in working through the complexities; it’s a huge topic and Mike reverts to an easy low-handing target to discredit the rest of it. I don’t want life that easy, I find it boring. Ranting is to speak or declaim extravagantly or violently; talk in a wild or vehement way – there are many, many examples of Mike doing this. This is actually what the Chairmen I was speaking to so disliked (and laughed at) – words such as “coercive quotas agenda” for example – we wont go to quotas in the UK, and to imply 250 business leaders would be coerced into something like that is laughable. It’s fear mongering and silly, and harms the impact of what good could actually come out of Mike’s writings. (I’m sure there is some, somewhere…………)

    Mike thanked me for my contribution to the “debate” but I think he ranted himself out of debating! As he himself said in a post elsewhere “let us concentrate our time, energy and resources not in debating with feminists but in FIGHTING them”. Not extravagant talk, Doris? Bless you for your defence and loyalty.

    Might I suggest a new, fresh line of argument, to free you from the broken bit in the ‘Causal’ record? The dynamics of choice, for example, often referred to as ‘the choice illusion’ is a particularly interesting area receiving much research funding currently. Just a suggestion, feel free to ignore!

    The accusation of “militant” is hilarious! I have the chuckles. If you extract phrases from my thread, for sure its easy to skew them into something which looks more ‘militant’ when quoted. But that in itself is using the very shaming tactics you have accused me of. It’s a classic, over-done tactic, Mike, please….

    I am recovering from an operation, hence have the time to write on here. I am back at work tomorrow, yipppeee, and will not be able to justify any more time to this (as I would not normally be able to do when working) so this will be my last post. Toodelooo good luck with the FIGHT! x

  55. Posted 24/07/2012 at 14:25 | Permalink

    The consistant argument from the government, Fawsett Society, EU, CBI and the IoD has been that coporate performace improves by having more women on boards and that there is a causal effect which has now been discredited and as Mr Buchanan amoung others raised this issue surely he deserves some credit for so doing. You make some interesting comments however I feel that your words are now bordering on anti Mr Buchanan for its own sake rather than finding any merit in what he has to say about the economic case that has so far been the predominent argument from the above organisations for more women on boards. I am loyal to no one particular view however I do enjoy robust economic argument. I do hope you feel better soon following your operation.

  56. Posted 24/07/2012 at 17:03 | Permalink

    ‘Anonymous’, thank you for your latest contribution. Let me address your points in turn:

    1. I’m not asking you to associate yourself with me, but rather to publicly dissociate yourself from my arguments and reveal your identity (and that of your headhunting firm). We’re interested in having an open debate. Why aren’t you? 2. You appear to think I should be ashamed of self-publishing my books. You couldn’t be more wrong. My first book was published by a mainstream publisher (Kogan Page) in 2008, and while the company was very professional, I much prefer self-publishing, to the point that I wrote a guide to the subject, The Joy of Self-Publishing’. I’ve been delighted by the testimonials my books have received, from eminent professors and others. Besides, among the writers who started off self-publishing were (to name but a very few of them) John Galsworthy, Rudyard Kipling, Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain, DH Lawrence, James Joyce, Stephen King… 3. I’m sorry you don’t like my book covers. Still, as the saying goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Feel free to buy copies and cut the covers off, or cover them in brown paper, or whatever. 4. You write, ‘There are so many others out there writing on this topic… who find a publisher to invest in them.’ So many’? Very few of the writers tackling such subjects with similar perspectives to mine have found a commercial publisher. If you know differently, do please enlighten us all. 5. Thank you for conceding the point about the absence of positive causal links, but do you accept the clear evidence for negative causal links? The reasons we persist with this issue are twofold. Firstly, claims of positive causal links aren’t a troublesome minor ‘error’ which will go away, they have for many years been the core of the alleged business case used to justify initiatives to ‘improve’ gender diversity in major companies. Without those demonstrable positive causal links, the business case isn’t worth a hill of beans. Secondly, the myth that ‘improved’ gender balance in boardrooms leads to improved business performance – in turn boosting the economy – is regularly used by the government (by David Cameron and Vince Cable in particular) to justify the continuing threat of quotas. Only a week ago the ‘Evening Standard’ carried a full-page article by Vince Cable which made such claims, and we reported on the article on our blog 6.We’re sorry you’re getting tired of our focus on the positive causal link myth, but we’re not getting tired of explaining it to anyone who will listen, whether business leaders, politicians, journalists, academics or others. You’re going to be reading more about this in the national press in the coming weeks. 7. Your other points were mostly made by ‘Female entrepreneur’ so I won’t spend my time duplicating those critiques here. 8. I wish you a speedy recovery from your operation, and good luck with hunting those heads. Have a nice day.

    Mike Buchanan

  57. Posted 25/07/2012 at 20:05 | Permalink

    Hi Anonymous. May I suggest that you leave this guy alone to his ranting? He’ll reply at length to this short post because he has nothing else to do – no job, no credentials, NO PUBLISHER and so short of support that he’s invented “Doris”. While we live our successful and fulfilling lives, he’s home alone with his computer so leave him be, it’s the only humane thing to do. Shame about the IEA though – they used to be OK.

  58. Posted 26/07/2012 at 11:53 | Permalink

    I find it odd that you should consider that i am a figment of Mr Buchanan’s imagination… it because I am a women, albeit elderly and somewhat scatty , who should not be contributing to such weighty subjects !!. Regrettably both you and Anonymous have input personal ranting’s towards Mr Buchanan rather than considered, intellectual or scientific arguments which is a great shame ….but it does speak volumes. I have long been an supporter of the IEA who are to be congratulated for their fair and open minded approach to this issue by seeking objective views on the subject. It demeans you and utterly undermines your arguments by continuing with your personal attacks. There is however time to put that right which I hope is what you do with a coherent, intellectual and scientific rationale for your views which have nothing whatever to do with Mr Buchanan…..I am sure we would all be interested.

  59. Posted 26/07/2012 at 15:49 | Permalink

    @ Anonymous (man loving) female
    I’ve read your rather long initial posting twice over now and I still wonder, what this pleading is all about. Let me start at the end in what I hope to become a rather brief statement. Do you want to insinuate that it wasn’t you who wrote that post, but the circumstances under which you labour? Well, this will put a final touch to the discussion about free will that kept philosophers over centuries quite occupied.

    Let’s assume that as a human capable to decide based on its free will, you decided to write the comment all by yourself. If so, you must allow others to be equally capable and to make their own free decisions. In fact that is what most scientific theories of action have in common: they think of people as free-willed beasts searching for the best decision under a given set of circumstances. So you will find, as sociological research does for quite some time now, that men as well as women will make decisions with respect to, e.g., cultural expectations. Cultural expectations are a bit odd and hard to come by, but one can quite easily retreat to the assumption that a culture that promotes, e.g., the benefit of raising children will end-up with women and men who want to set-up family. This will inevitably lead to some kind of division of labour which naturally it has to because though both sexes conspire in what could be called a start-up it still – despite all efforts to surpass this impediment set by nature – is women who bear children and while they do so, they cannot attend to, say: board meetings. Thus, they are faced with a simple decision: either family or professional career (as long as they do not want to discuss urgent strategic decisions while giving birth). This little impediment might be one of the reasons why we still find a majority of women who want to care for their family and restrict their professional career to part-time engagements. The amount of this part-time professionalism varies considerably between European countries, however, the pattern is the same in all of them. Hence, some women DECIDE to abandon or restrict career for the sake of something else. You might even find some women and men who pursue a proper career but have no intention to enter boardrooms, which brings me to the final point.
    You’ve written a lot about social change. I researched a lot about social change. And, there has been considerable social change over past decades, however, I find your social change myth hard to find in reality. Yes, women make more purchasing decisions and more than 50% of students are female. However, the first “fact” is simply owed to the mutual understanding most couples have, not to say division of labour that leaves the regular splurge to women, simply because they usually have more time than men and simply because it is a cultural trait. It is this cultural trait that claims responsibility for the fact that despite being quite numerous at universities, share of women in companies gets smaller the higher you get. Women simply have a choice, men don’t have, they may choose between family and work, and many choose family over work. It is this inequality of what I like to call the individual opportunity space of men and women that we find in empirical research time and time again when about 30% of women state that they intend to set up family rather than pursue a career in business, while about 40% say, that they are undecided whether they will opt for family or career. This is a constant pattern for the last decades and it hardly fits with your impression of the socio-cultural or social change. I therefore suggest reading a favourite article of mine, written by Paul DiMaggio and William Powell in 1983 and headlined “the Iron Cage revisited”. In essence it describes the different ways, by which e.g., managers get entangled in a “reality” of their own, a “reality” that has only a faint resemblance with the real world and it explains to some extent the gross deviation between your account of a social change and what is really happening.

Comments are closed.