Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Inconsistency, poll ratings, and boardrooms

I don’t quite know what to make of David Cameron’s recent evangelising on the subject of women in the boardroom.  He’s certainly right on the point of principle; the low level of female directors in our major companies represents a significant loss of potential talent if one assumes, as I do, that talent and ability are fairly evenly distributed between the sexes.
I’m not convinced, though, about his claim that this failure alone accounts for such a significant degree of economic failure in the UK, nor that putting it right will have the claimed level of economic impact.  The fact that Norwegian business, with its much higher level of female representation in the board room, is doing well is not proof that the one is the result of the other.  There are a lot of other differences between the Norwegian and UK economies.
I wonder whether his alighting on this particular issue might not have more to do with his poll ratings amongst female voters than it has to do with economics.  I also wonder how his hint that the Government will legislate if necessary to impose quotas sits with his repeated claims that businesses are already over-regulated and must be freed from state interference in the way they operate.  It doesn’t look or sound consistent to me.
I’d actually support such legislation if it were to be introduced, but I’m not expecting to see it any time soon.  And I can’t escape the nagging doubt that criticising the lack of women in the board room is a bit of a diversion from the fact that the government’s economic policies can hardly be described as successful.  It almost looks like blaming somebody or something else.

5 comments:

stuart said...

So how will anyone know if their female boss got their job on merit or to meet a quota.

How many female Tory MPs are there?
How many in the cabinet?

Boncath said...

John
My issue with blogs is that they stimulate discussion even passion but are ephemeral in extreme

Redistribution and subsidy is a classic example This article should be the basis of a major issue for us in Wales to debate and lo 24hrs later we are back to men and women in the boardroom

John Dixon said...

Boncath,

But my other reader likes a bit of variety....

Boncath said...

John

My other reader?? surely not

Anonymous said...

Business culture in Scandinavia is very 'people orientated', the role of the board is to give 'nurture' the finances of an organisation to achieve corporate goals. They are also flatter organisations. Business culture in the UK tends to be 'dictatorial' and corporate goals are achieved by feeding instructions down a hierarchical structure, often a hang-over from the English class system. The sickness is that of the culture of business and lack of women at senior levels is just one symptom. Another failure is testosterone driven decision making. Example : Goodwin of RBS decided to do an acquisition of ABN-AMRO when the financial liquidity grounds were dubious, at the bid, he said to the shareholders that her had the 'balls' to do it. I suspect absence of 'balls' would have resulted in better decision making. It should be noted that the Norwegian banking system has not suffered the same fate, as they had done the opposite. They liquidated bad debts early and had realistic valuations on assets. It was Bente Rathe, CEO of Gjensidige, one of the largest banks in Norway at the time, who predicted such poor liquidity would lead to a banking collapse as far back as 2003. Fine woman is Ms Rathe.