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Jobs for the girls

13 March 2014

Martin Vander Weyer tells an interesting tale in his Any Other Business column this week of Business Secretary Vince Cable demanding that companies appoint more women to senior positions:

‘The Business Secretary has been busy behind the scenes, too. “We had a letter from Vince telling us we should appoint a female non-exec…” one chief executive told me last week “…and we’ve found a really good one, totally one of the boys, she even likes shooting.”‘

Martin points out that Cable’s campaign is ‘about equality for its own sake rather than the distinctive qualities of female decision-making, and the otherwise already emancipated objects of his support feel themselves patronised’. He suggests that women should be less interested in being ‘an unheeded monitor of men behaving badly’ or a way of making the annual report look a little more diverse, and instead aim to be in the chair themselves. He suggests the Barclays chairmanship as one excellent job for an all-female shortlist.

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But some MPs are also very keen for the next appointment to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee to be a woman too. Sajid Javid stumbled rather on Tuesday when asked about this in the Commons, giving a clumsy answer about MPC appointments being on merit which suggested that there were no women who merited the role at all. Unsurprisingly, Labour made a nice fat fuss about this.

His colleague Andrea Leadsom, who sits on the Treasury Select Committee and was herself a banker before entering parliament, has a slightly different view, though, and thinks that the next appointment should be a woman. ‘I think there’s a huge need for greater diversity on the regulatory boards,’ she tells me. ‘The Monetary Policy Committee, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority would all benefit from wider experience and backgrounds to challenge the risk of group think. Having high-calibre women should only improve the thinking of those committees.’

Perhaps Vince Cable will fancy getting involved in this one and will write to George Osborne urging him to appoint a female MPC member. Although there’s no guarantee the Chancellor will reply

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  • andagain

    If women are that similar to men, this kind of diversity makes no difference…

    You get cognative diversity by looking for people with different employment histories, not the wives of the current directors friends.

  • Tom Tom

    Doesn’t the Speccie have quotas for women Isabel ?

  • LadyDingDong

    Three of the world’s greatest post-war political leaders (four if you include Angela Merkel) were women; Golda Meir, Indira Ghandi and, the greatest of them all, Margaret Thatcher. My last boss was a women and she built from scratch a $5 billion division of a global corporation. All of these women got their positions on their own merits, and I am sure that Hilary Clinton, when she almost inevitably takes over from the useless Obama, will be able to say the same (hubby notwithstanding). When I look at the awful wimmin on labtard’s benches, I wouldn’t employ any one of them, and only a couple from the Conservatives (the less said about Lib Dem women the better). In commerce, a few women stand out but in general terms, if they can’t get there on their own two Louboutin shod feet , why on earth should we allow quotas or give them preference?

    • James Strong

      No quotas for women until we are sure that left-handers are fully represented.
      And Librans and Scorpios.
      And gingers.
      Alternatively, we could just have a gender-blind process and select on merit.

    • HookesLaw

      I don’t expect Hillary to be one of the worlds greatest leaders and I do not see what Ghandi did especially (her name should indicate how she came to power). Thatcher had the support of a loyal and leadership losing rival. She sadly went to pieces when he retired.
      Do the LibDems have any women?

      • Tom Tom

        Indira Gandhi, Somerville Oxford like Mag Thatcher, was daughter of Nehru

    • Makroon

      Indira Gandhi was an absolute disaster, right up there with Kwame Nkrumah, and came to power through dynastic politics, not merit. Merkel has done nothing much except help to impoverish southern Europe, she is no Adenauer, Brandt, Schmidt or Kohl – and is living off the reforms brought in by Schroder. Mary Robinson might be a decent shout.
      So might Wu Yi but you’ve probably never heard of her.

  • Denis_Cooper

    So no mention of the EU, then; no reference to Viviane Reding’s proposed Directive on gender equality on company boards; no recollection that the UK government said that it believed a voluntary approach was best, and it opposed the EU making any law about it on the grounds of “subsidiarity”; apparently no memory that after quite a long debate about it the Commons supported the government’s position, and likewise in the Lords, and so an objection was sent to the EU Commission; whereupon Reding said that she was going ahead anyway because not enough of the national parliaments in the EU agreed with the UK Parliament to trigger a so-called “yellow card”; you could ask Andrea Leadsom to explain that as one of her great ideas for a “Fresh Start” on the EU is to elaborate that particular form of transnational voting to also having the possibility of a “red card”, but this is what was reported at the time:

    “Most national parliaments in EU countries say the European Commission should go ahead with a law on female quotas on corporate boards. But six disagree.

    Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told press in Brussels on Wednesday (16 January) the consultation with MPs was not about the content of the proposal, but about “subsidiarity” – the question whether a given problem is best tackled at EU or local level.”

    “The green light by 21 out of 27 national assemblies is enough for the commission to go ahead, with MEPs and member states to thrash out details of the new law in talks in Brussels in the coming months.

    The six malcontents are the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the UK.”

    • HookesLaw

      ‘no mention of the EU’. We can be sure you will rectify that – ad nauseam.

      • Denis_Cooper

        So in your view it is totally irrelevant to the topic of this article that an EU Commissioner is pushing ahead with a Directive on gender quotas for company boards, even though the UK Parliament said that there should be no such EU law.

  • Makroon

    DeAnne Julius was a calm and eminently qualified founder member of the MPC.
    Surely Osborne and Carney can come up with another impressive female candidate, from the US, Canada or Australia, if they can’t find a suitable Brit.
    As for Vince, in his mind’s eye, he is already working for Labour.

    • The Laughing Cavalier

      He always was. The sad old booby thinks he should be Chancellor of the exchequer and is counting on Miliband giving him the job. Balls might have something to say about that.

    • James Strong

      I’m sure there are impressive female candidates, but if they are right for the job they would be right whether or not they were female.
      Appointing someone just because they are female is patronising/insulting and frankly stupid.

      • Makroon

        But, as far as the MPC is concerned, members are invited (for one term). It is careless not to have invited more women.
        Just as a reminder, such luminaries as “Danny” Blanchflower and Adam Posen are former members.

  • James Allen

    God save us from the PC brigade….

  • Koakona

    Absolute tosh, all appointments should be made on merit alone.

    • realfish

      To see this, you only have to watch Harriett’s car crash at DPMQs last Wednesday.

    • telemachus

      There are equalities agendas here
      Why should women in the workplace always be ruled by men
      My husband has for many years worked well as 2 in C to a woman
      And the women in the company have equal status in everything to the men

      • James Strong

        I’d always assumed you were a man tele.
        But now I see how grievously I was in error.
        The number and intensity of your daft comments made it much more likely that you’d be one of the wimmin than a man.

        • telemachus

          Our team is gender neutral

      • Smithersjones2013

        Why should women in the workplace always be ruled by men

        They shouldn’t and as you have admitted they don’t. The thing is the many hundreds of inane and absurd posts you have made on here demonstrate perfectly why selection should be on merit and recommendation and not because you have different floppy bits to men.

        Now enough of you’re bigoted sexist agenda of privilege and entitlement.

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