DURING 2018, Professor Jonathan Haskel joined the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. Nicky Morgan, then chair of the Treasury select committee, was reported to be ‘disappointed’ that the appointee was a man, to the extent that the cod-Conservative threatened to block further appointments of male candidates.
Labour’s Rachel Reeves, then as now chair of the Business select committee, was apoplectic: ‘Eight of the nine-strong monetary policy committee are currently men and it is truly staggering that the Treasury has failed to appoint a woman to this role.’
Not having been part of the interview panel and therefore in no position to judge the outcome, Morgan and Reeves evidently were of the opinion that gender should have trumped all other considerations – a discriminatory view shared by more than just that pernicious pair. No doubt owing to political pressure, in 2019 the search for Mark Carney’s replacement as Governor of the Bank of England was outsourced to a specialist recruitment firm of feminist ‘trailblazers’ who proclaim to be ‘advocates for women in business’.
Sapphire Partners is managed entirely by white women; however, being ‘passionate believers in diversity’, the six-person advisory board does magnanimously contain one token male. Incidentally, this advisory board also includes a certain Cherie Booth QC CBE; amusingly, on its website the fiercely feminist firm introduces Ms Booth as ‘wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’.
Sapphire Partners offers a ‘global reach, consistently delivering inclusive and innovative results’ and boasts of being ‘magnets for securing female talent in a market that now realises the incredible contribution that women bring at executive level’. On this occasion, however, the firm failed to live up to its vainglorious verbiage. The ‘inclusive and innovative result’ which it delivered was the appointment of, er, Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority for the past four years and, oh dear, a privileged 60-year-old white male.
That announcement during December caused diversity auditors to curl their lip; nonetheless, the women at Sapphire Partners purportedly were ‘immensely proud to have worked alongside HM Treasury on this exhaustive and rigorous search’. Behind the bravado, the gig going to a white middle-aged man will have been a painful outcome for these ‘champions for women’, although the firm’s distress at failing to place a fellow female has been cushioned by a consultancy fee reported to be £90,000.
In mid-March Bailey will begin his eight-year term as Governor (basic salary £495,000), having been hailed by Chancellor Sajid Javid as the ‘stand-out candidate in a competitive field’. Interestingly, earlier this week a Freedom of Information request revealed that the ‘competitive field’ comprised 23 applicants, 21 men and only two women.
It goes without saying that both females made the shortlist of nine. The Chancellor’s letter to the Treasury committee can be read here.
The duo’s ultimate failure to defy statistical odds presumably is an example of what the Fawcett Society had in mind a few weeks ago when it again complained that ‘we are wasting women’s talent and skills’; as ever, the feminists’ predictable remedy is ‘quotas, targets and policy interventions to remove the barriers to women’s progression’. Yet despite the Treasury using ‘magnets for securing female talent’ to attract the next head of the Bank of England, the ‘advocates for women’ at Sapphire Partners were able to conjure only two applicants of their own sex; and these feminist headhunters, who boast of their ‘unique expertise in providing creative and balanced shortlists’, proffered a pool of credible candidates which was less than 10 per cent female.
The feminist firm’s website quotes Joan of Arc: ‘One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it.’ Indeed, and it is largely their life and career choices that result in far fewer women than men being qualified, able and willing to apply for top jobs, such as Governor of the Bank of England.