Pressure on the Judiciary, Company Boards and University Admissions

It is doubtful if any other free, self-governing, democratic country, with the possible exception of the USA, has ever enacted legislation, the declared aim and effect of which is to advance recently arrived racial minority groups at the expense of the long-established native population, as has the United Kingdom over the last 45 years.  Of late, and specifically through the Equalities Act (EA) 2010, females are especially favoured in public and quango appointments by use of the word “diversity” as a criterion for preferment – any proportion of females less than 50% being regarded as a lack of diversity.

House of Lords Committee on Judicial Appointments

For example, the House of Lords Constitution Committee (HLCC) has published a report on 28 March 2012 which among other things recommends that in making appointments to the highest levels of the Judiciary, e.g. the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, the Lord Chancellor and he Lord Chief Justice should have a duty to encourage diversity as the Judicial Appointments Committee (JAC) apparently does (which will be news to the vast majority of British citizens enmeshed as we are in a cat’s cradle of favouritism).  How should this “encouragement” be given according to the HLCC?

Section 159 of the Equalities Act 2010

The answer is by using section 159 of the Equalities Act (EA) 2010, which provides (as the vast majority of British citizens will not know) for what it refers to as “positive action” in respect of persons which share a “protected characteristic”.  Few if any British citizens outside the circle of employment ideologues surrounding Harriet Harman – the Labour ex-minister responsible for the EA – will have heard of section 159, let alone digested the terrible threat it poses to every man in employment seeking promotion or, being out of work, seeking employment[1].

In the wider field of private sector employment, a number of private companies seem to think they are living abroad somewhere.  Centrica in its 2005 annual report boasted that its ethnic minority employee numbers had gone up from 16.6% to 17.2% which is more than double their proportion in the British population.

While the committee’s report refers to “disabled” people as sharing such a “protected characteristic” – “disabled” not being defined – the reference to their being “only” 5% of the judges as being from ethnic minorities and 22% being women shows where their real targets are.

These figures are contrasted with an estimated 9% of the population being from ethnic minorities, and 51% being women.

False Proportioning

In fact this contrasting of 5% with 9% and 22% with 51% is a blatant example of false proportioning which is being used repeatedly to advance the claims of various groups to an equal share of senior appointments throughout the public sector and the corporate sector of industry irrespective of the age and aptitude of the favoured groups.  Needless to say, this is always a one-way street: no arguments are heard for instance to reduce the dominance of females in the senior ranks of the charities or reduce the number of black footballers in the premier league in line with the proportion of blacks in the relevant British age group (2.1%).

Relevant Proportioning

The key point for useful comparisons – what is the relevant group?  In the judiciary’s case, on average, one might expect that people who were born and brought up in Britain and had achieved standing in the legal profession would be in the age range 45-64.  The number of people in this age range in December 2010 projected from those aged 40-59 5 years earlier in 2005 (when their eligibility for appointment might be being assessed) is as follows, using the National Statistical Office categories:

2005: Numbers in the Age Range 40-59

Ethnic Group

Number of People in 000’s





Mixed White/Asian/Black















The total ethnic minorities in the relevant age-group (5.7% or 1 in 18) is thus almost exactly matched by their presence in the judiciary.

Maintaining Confidence in the Judiciary

Contrary to what the House of Lords committee says in its report, “maintaining confidence in the judiciary” is a matter of belief by the general public that appointments to the bench are made from among those most capable of carrying out their duties and their capability is matched by conviction to apply the Law without regard to any other matter.  That is the relevant group, not one based on diversity considerations.  As it is now, the number one reason why people have lost confidence in the judiciary, particularly in the most senior judges, is their bizarre notions of human rights, treating foreign criminals as if they were British citizens, in the case of extradition, better than British citizens (e.g. our posts: Immigration Practices, 13 July 2011 and Tormenting Britain, 29 July 2011).

Ethnic Group – How do you tell?

The discriminatory advantage which the HLCC is trying to confer on ethnic minorities under section 159 of the EA and the increasing mixed race numbers (see table above) will bring into the mind of an employer: “How do I tell who is genuinely in one ethnic group or another?”  At the moment for census purposes, self-selection applies, but in the future with fast-track promotion envisaged for the judiciary and the metropolitan police, and doubtless other public sectors, there will be considerable advantage in opting to be described as coloured in some sense.  If you have a White mother, a Black father apparently qualifies you to fall into an “under-represented” mixed-race group for diversity purposes, but does a Black grandfather qualify and how do you prove it?  This is clearly heading in the direction of the odious practices under the Nuremburg race laws[2] and apartheid South Africa.  Only the complete abolition of race or ethnic considerations in employment will return Britain to the non-discriminatory practices a democratic country ought to have.

Female Favouritism

It is doubtful if in the whole of history there has ever been a group so favoured as university-educated females born after 1960.  On all sides as a group they are praised, encouraged, petted, promoted out of turn, exclaimed about, usually by males in the 60-70 age group.  Every form of false proportioning is called in aid to prove they are unjustly discriminated against where their proportion in senior positions is significantly less than 50%.  Pre-university, the A-level exam system has been changed to include project work and easy-bite modules because they have been thought to favour girls, compared with their performance in the classical closed-book, end of course examinations.  Happily, at the behest of the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, these features of the disaster which is current A-level examination are planned to be reversed, not without disapproval from the usual vocal sections of the teachers, a majority of whom are women.

Board Appointments

The current focus of female favouritism is the composition of the directorial Boards of private companies, especially those companies whose share prices are listed in the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) indices[3].  Those companies listed in the FTSE 100 are determined by the value of their issued share capital, the smallest being Wood Group at around £2.6 billion, the largest the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) at around £100 billion. There is also a FTSE 250 list of smaller companies going down to around £100 million.

Good and Bad Boards

As the point at which decisions to spend cash, invest in new equipment, hire senior staff, raise loans, are made, the Board of a company should be composed of people who know the market for its products and have achieved something of distinction in its service.  These are good reasons why shareholders should take a very close look at the composition of the Boards of their companies, especially the FTSE 100 companies.  In some cases it is difficult to see what some Board members are there for, apart from approving their own salaries and ever more complex bonus schemes, particularly where foreign directors are involved.  Thus in the list of the five highest paid chief executives in the FTSE 100 companies with remuneration above £5 million, three are American and two Dutch.  This is in the context where the FTSE 100’s (end 2011) index of share prices is actually lower than it was in 2000, while Board remuneration has increased four times.  Heading the list of five is US citizen Bob Diamond (on £23 million last year, £17 million this year) author of the disastrous takeover of HBOS by Lloyds Bank in 2008, now 41% owned by the taxpayer as a result of having to be rescued in 2008/9.

In contrast to this disaster, an outstandingly successful Board appointment was that of Rose Bravo, an American business woman chosen as CEO of Burberry plc.  Bravo expanded both Burberry’s product line through recruiting the British designer Christopher Bailey, and using her own knowledge of the US clothing market, more than doubled US sales from £300 million to £650 million over a 5 year period 2001-2005.  Clearly Ms Bravo had no need of a gender quota to hold down her job.

Women on Boards report by Lord Davies

As a consequence of continual behind-the-scenes pressure from the tax-payer financed “Equalities and Human rights Commission”, and assorted private sector pressure groups such as the 30% Club and the “Minister for Women” millionaire Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone, Lord Davies of Abersoch was asked to report on the “present levels of female representation” on the boards of FTSE 100 and 250 companies, and make recommendations for increasing it.  He reported at the end of February 2012 that within the FTSE 100 companies[4]:

  • women account for 15.6% of all directorships – an increase over 3 years from 12.5%
  • in the year to 29 February 2012, 27% of all board appointments have been taken by women, up from 13% in the previous year
  • just 11 “laggard” companies remain whose Boards are entirely male. These include some of the largest companies, slugging it out in the toughest arenas of international competition like the miners Randgold and Xstrata.

Achievement and Ability not Representation the vital requirement

Lord Abersoch’s report is couched entirely in terms of “representation” as if a company Board was a sort of elected parliament. He refers to a “growing recognition of including more women in decision-making roles” and the benefits gained by “society, the economy, and business” by doing so. Realists among the British population – the great majority of people in fact – have long learnt to be wary of politicians offering such unquantified “benefits” which usually sit squarely in the category of “vacuous” – immediate tangible costs and vague intangible benefits.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has expressed the view that “there is overwhelming evidence that having women on boards is good for business”.  That should raise a doubt or two.  Nobody advising Lord Davies, not even the Cranfield School of Management, has produced a shred of numerical evidence to support this assertion of benefit.  In Norway, where it has been mandatory for public companies to have 40% of their boards composed of women[5], it has been put about by government agencies that this law has brought benefits, but this has been flatly contradicted by the only scientific study of the evidence so far.  This is from the Ross School of Management, University of Michigan, USA, whose authors[6] have studied business in Norway where the 40% quota rule applies and the USA and UK where quotas are continually being mooted.  The authors found that:

  • the stock price of companies dropped by 5% relative to general stock price movements for these companies forced to appoint women for the first time
  • Tobin’s Q ratio[7] dropped by 18%

Dittman and Ahern commented that one reason for this poor experience is that many of the females appointed in Norway were younger and less experienced than men.  One woman was reported as being on 14 boards[8].

In Britain it is noticeable that the pressure comes principally from two groups:

  • 40-50 year-old, already highly privileged women
  • 60+ men, recently at or near the top of the very largest FTSE companies

For example, Jane Scott, City of London School for Girls, Trinity College Oxford, MBA at the London Business School, aged 51 is a leading light in the 30% club and is a long-standing female pressure groupie.  Lord Davies himself (born 1952) was ennobled by the Labour government in 2009 on stepping down as Chairman of Standard Chartered Plc, which at £37 billion market value is number 13 in the FTSE 100.  Standard Chartered is one of the most profitable of British domiciled[9] banks, its shares and bonds are a key part of many pension fund portfolios and therefore its efficient running is of major concern to the British people.  It has seven executive directors – all male.

Spurred on by the political equalities agenda (e.g. Equalities Act 2010) these two groups have succeeded in establishing female representation on company boards as a quasi-moral issue, when it is in fact simply an example of a pressure group for personal self-advancement in the first case and in the other for government approval in the form of civil honours and public sector part-time appointments.

Effects on the Management of British Companies

Imagine you are a male, native Briton in mid-career, aged 40-45, with say 20 years’ achievement and managerial experience behind you.  Suddenly you notice a young woman colleague with 5-10 years less experience and achievement being appointed to the Board of your company.  Or perhaps a mid 50s woman appearing from nowhere, appointed as non-Executive director, who asks you for a quick, not too detailed, run-down on the Company’s operations.

If you were a male member of an ethnic minority (about 6% in your group) you might be able to bring a complaint of constructive dismissal if you left in disgust[10].  As a native Briton however, you will have no wish to sue your employer and will probably leave and go abroad, where your ability and experience will be appreciated and rewarded.  Any company who does this trick even once is likely to be degraded in its performance and reputation among its industry peers.  It is the direct equivalent of allowing favoured groups to pass an examination with lower marks than the majority.  Who would want to own or own-up to such a qualification?

Downgrading standards for the benefit of favoured groups to fit the equalities agenda, will if pursued, ruin whatever area of society it is applied to, none less than education.

Equalities Pressure on Oxford and Cambridge

Cambridge University is regularly placed in the first three of the world’s universities by independent judges.  Jia Tong University in Shanghai, China, placed Cambridge at number one in its list in 2010 as did the more Anglo-oriented “QS” survey for 2011/12.  Oxford was placed fifth with three top US universities in between[11].

As a beacon of world-class excellence in ancient Anglican college establishments, Oxford and Cambridge have been the targets for egalitarians for years.  Of late, pressure on them to “open” themselves up to disadvantaged minorities, social and racial” has intensified[12].

Gordon Brown’s ignorant remarks about a female candidate for Oxford from a NE England school and David Cameron’s similarly ignorant interpretation of Oxford’s admissions of Afro Asian candidates, were both examples of false proportioning.

A letter in the Times of 26 March 2012 from a Mr Geoff Watson perfectly illustrates false proportioning based on the use of irrelevant grouping.  The letter claimed that “if there were an even playing field” for all candidates to Oxford, about 7% of admissions would be gained by independent school pupils, compared with the 43.6% of places actually gained.  This proportioning is based on the provably false, indeed absurd premise that the ability to undertake an Oxford degree course is on average the same for all pupils in the state and independent sectors[13].  Moreover Oxford and Cambridge degree courses are not badges to be won in a lottery.  As with any prestigious university they have specific courses with specific subject A-level passes at A or A* grades needed even to start.  In the physical sciences and mathematics, 53% of  all A-levels are gained by independent school pupils with the proportion gaining an A or A* (the pool in which Cambridge and Oxford fish) even greater[14].  Likewise, independent schools also predominate in academically rigorous arts courses like classics and modern languages which are often not taught to A-level standard in state schools.

In answer to the flurry of criticism, Mike Nicholson pointed out that in 2011, 24% of independent school applicants and 18% of state school applicants were successful.  Such a difference is easily accounted for by differences in the choice of courses by applicants as noted above, by sample size, as well as by differences in ability in particular cases.

Britain Watch will take up the distribution of abilities by social class and ethnic group more fully in a forthcoming article.

What should be done?

  • The Equalities Act 2010 and sections 35-38 of the Race Relations Act 1976 should be repealed.  The Equalities and Human Rights Commission should be abolished.
  • The House of Lords Constitution Committee on Judicial Appointments should be ignored.
  • More generally, bringing pressure to bear on employers, whether private or public, by any means, whether by contract compliance, considerations of diversity or any other means explicit or implicit,  to appoint anyone except on the grounds exclusively of capability and commitment to do a job, should be unlawful.
  • Likewise requests to fill up ethnic or racial origins boxes in job application forms, visitor books at museums or any other facility, should be outlawed.
  • Men should not accept the pressure to appoint women as women or minorities as minorities to jobs at any level as “the way things are”; they should fight it by stressing capability and relevant achievement in the field as the only criteria for promotion or appointment.


[1] Section 37 of the Race Relations Act (RRA)1976 is also discriminating against native Britons, but in a relatively mild way.  This section was inserted in order to allow industry training boards to put on training courses for a limited period of 12 months just for ethnic minority groups which the potential employers could show were “under-represented” in the skills they wished to employ.  The BBC in 1995, in Manchester, decided to use this clause to advertise six “traineeships” restricted to Blacks and Asians.  This writer enlisted the help of Sir Nicholas Winterton, then MP for Macclesfield, to stop the BBC continuing with this blatant anti-English racialism, pointing out that the BBC traineeships were not training in the RRA sense, but salaried posts (salary up to £32,000) much sought after by well-qualified graduates, including those from Manchester University.  Under continued pressure the BBC shamefacedly withdrew the offending advert and promised to stop the scheme.  The question remaining of course is why people in the BBC should seek to discriminate against other British applicants.

[2] Where a Jewish grandfather allowed you to be classed as German, if your mother and father were “Aryan”.

[3] Recent headlines include: “FTSE giants slam door on women executives”, “Women’s Day” at the Stock Exchange (patronised by Nick Clegg, Deputy Leader of the British coalition government), “Glass ceiling starts at 30”, and so on.

[4] Department of Business, Innovation, and Skills Report “Women on Boards”, 13 March 2012.

[5] Legislation was passed in Norway in 2003 to require publicly listed companies (plcs) to increase the proportion of women from the (then) 9% to 40% by 2005.  On January 1st 2006 these companies in Norway were given 2 years to comply or be dissolved.

[6] Associate Professor (UK senior lecturer equivalent) Amy Dittmar and Assistant Professor Kenneth Ahern (lecturer equivalent).

[7] Q ratio = Total Market Value of Firm divided by Total Book Value of Assets.  This is a measure of how well a company is using its assets.

[8] Some men are, or have been, members of 6 or 7 British boards, but this is hardly a model to follow – owing more to “contacts” than ability.

[9] It has however repeatedly threatened to relocate to Hong Kong.

[10] This would put the Tribunal in an excruciating position: which “equality” trumps the other in the diversity stakes – race or gender?

[11] Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale were number 2, 3 and 4.

[12] Thus the distinguished French scholar Martin Harris, formerly Vice Chancellor of Manchester University, has been replaced at the “Office of Fair Admissions” by someone promising to use the “full force of his powers” to punish  universities not conforming to the government’s social engineering agenda.

[13] A quarter of state pupils leave school at 16 with no academic qualifications at all.

[14] This fact alone means that it is literally impossible for all the universities running the full range of physics, chemistry, engineering and mathematics course (primarily the Russell Group of 25 universities) to meet the government’s social engineering objective of taking 75-80% of their students from state schools.

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