Self-identifying as a board member

The Times on Stonewall:

Today The Times reports on the newest foray into corporate boardrooms under the misleading guise of breaking the gender glass ceiling. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which regulates the financial industry, has drawn up diversity guidelines. These would require every company listed on FTSE indices to declare the percentage of women serving as board members. The new rules, however, do not require that companies declare their board members’ legal or biological sex but their gender identity, regardless of when in their career they adopted it. Using this new definition, the FCA is now recommending that 40 per cent of boards should be women.

But they could all be men. Companies could comply with such recommendations without actually promoting a single woman.

The Equality Law 2010 recognises only legal sex, not gender identity, and there is no right to self-declare your sex under UK law. The FCA guidelines therefore risk setting firms up for a clash with employees with protected characteristics under existing equalities law, who may argue their own rights have been infringed. Using self-identification rather than legal and biological sex as the basis for compiling gender diversity data could, for example, give a misleading picture of a company’s performance under this metric.

Not to mention that it could give companies a veil behind which to continue not promoting women.

The reality is that Stonewall lobbied intensively to change the law but was ultimately halted by an outcry from critics warning of the dangers to women of allowing self-identification to trump biological sex. It is now looking increasingly as if it is getting its way regardless by persuading employers to adopt its agenda. 

And who loses? Women. Of course.

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