Last Wednesday I was interviewed at length in Canary Wharf by a young (male) journalist, Alex Hudson, for the Mirror. The video interview lasted over 30 minutes, but only 53 seconds are included in the piece just published. It’s the stage in the interview in which I made the outrageous assertion that men shouldn’t be hanged for patting women’s rears in nightclubs. Alex, of course, had raised the issue. He didn’t raise the issue of women patting men’s rears in nightclubs, it hardly needs to be said.
The piece is here. Predictably, it contains numerous misrepresentations of what I said, or of our published materials, but it’s good to see links to some of those materials including the election manifesto.
Alex makes an effort to discredit some of our evidence bases, but at times has the decency to provide links to our materials. One example is the briefing paper from Campaign for Merit in Business which presents evidence of a causal link between artificially driving up female representation on boards, and corporate financial decline. In response, Alex presents studies showing correlation with improved financial performance, presumably with a view to leading people to assume correlation is the same as causation. It doesn’t. It doesn’t even imply it, as these studies invariably point out. From the first page of one of the reports he cites, from Harvard University:
Women have been gaining ground on corporate boards. They held 14.8% of Fortune 500 seats in 2007. Yet the effect of women on corporate performance is a matter of some debate. Studies using data at one or two points in time find that gender diversity on boards is associated with higher stock values and greater profitability.
However, studies using panel data over a number of years, which explore the effects of adding women to boards, generally show no effects, or negative effects. [Our emphasis.] This suggests that the association between board diversity and performance identified in cross-sectional studies is spurious; a consequence perhaps of the fact that successful firms appoint women to their boards.
So a study Alex cites to challenge our position actually supports it. Priceless. As we always say:
At this stage, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.