I had to laugh when I saw Tesco’s chairman, John Allan, stating that white men were becoming an “endangered species” on the board. Absolute nonsense.

While more companies are diversifying the range of ethnicities and genders on the board, I don’t think companies should be doing this because they need a non-white person as a director. That completely overshadows the objective of being on the board, which is to lead a particular area of the company. Next, it’ll be that ‘redhead directors’ are becoming endangered. That’s how ridiculous John Allan’s claim is.

If you are the CEO of a company and are choosing between a woman and a man to be the next CFO, the woman should not be picked for being a woman. If she were to get the job, it should be out of skill and ability. To deliberately choose a non-white, non-male director to be appointed is basically implying they are alike to a trophy wife, there for status and maybe a PR stunt that customers can trust this company is ‘open-minded’ and ’embracing change’. You can envisage the marketing techniques already.

Of course, for hundreds of years, white males have led the country, led companies, led wars, and have been the ‘heads of the household’. In the UK anyway, it is now a redundant concept that men are superior, especially that 26% of women hold board positions in some of the UK’s largest companies. My only hope is that if we ever reach 50% male and 50% female board representation, it has resulted from genuinely wanting these people for their skills. I also believe that women are only becoming less inferior to match men, not that women are becoming superior to them. That would undermine gender inequality to condemn men in the name of women.

As well, in 2011, 86% of the UK population were white. I can only imagine that this figure has dropped significantly, what with the settlement of refugees from various countries and general globalisation. But, to call white men “endangered” and having to “work twice as hard” is almost outrageous, coming from the chairman of a company with eight other white men and just three white women on the board.

I would like to see more ethnic minorities and women on company boards, but to choose them for purely not being white males is undiplomatic.

John Allan did later clarify what he meant, that his statement “was intended to be humorous, a bit hyperbolic”. Well John, your sense of humour is just as frivolous as the state of your company’s finances.

 

 

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