Here’s a straightforward question for you;
Q. What is the prime responsibility of a publicly-listed company?
If your immediate response wasn’t shareholder value, you’re probably a born and bred Australian.
I have several daughters and I would love to think that they will be afforded an equal opportunity of success when they reach adulthood. Equal opportunity though, not equality of outcome. The outcome is their responsibility.
Consider then, this genius idea;
It seems a great idea when written like that, and we must certainly applaud the sentiments of ANZ Bank CEO Mike Smith (no, not that one).
When considered in the context of this chart, there’s a problem though, can you spot what it is?
That massive drop at the point in the career path between “professional” and “executive” means that the available pool from which companies such as ANZ Bank can select their 50% female executive quota is significantly reduced.
It doesn’t take a degree in statistics to understand what the outcome will be. I see it all the time; it’s the female equivalent of The Peter Principle. For reasons no more significant than being the only candidate with a vagina, an unsuitable candidate gets the gig.
I could offer many examples of this reality. The most recent one is currently acting like a brake on a programme of work I have ownership for that, in the worst case scenario, will result in a four times return on investment, and the value of the investment has quite a few zeros after it. Time wasted is opportunity lost, therefore.
The problem is, one of the key stakeholders is the recipient of a “you’re all winners”/Plus One Pledge type of promotion and, as a consequence, a programme that should have been live and delivering massive upside last October is only just about to get out of the starting gate next month.
We had another long conversation yesterday where I felt like I was trying to explain nuclear fission to Lara Bingle. After 90 minutes of repetition and circular conversations I walked away still not confident that she’d understood what, to me and every other person I’d previously explained it to, was a very simple concept.
Last night I checked whether the problem was with my ability to explain the concept by running it past Charlie. She understood first time and asked far more insightful questions that the person who has had organisational prime responsibility for the function for the last 2 years.
There are clearly many women who are capable of performing the senior roles in publicly-listed companies, they are probably just not currently in the workforce. Instead, through lip service and political correctness, strugglers like our old friend Penelope get jobs for which they are probably not suited and when they prove conclusively that they aren’t they remain bullet proof to the usual performance review process.
Lastly, let’s remind ourselves of the Dunning-Kruger Effect (h/t Peewhit);
If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent. […] the skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.
Maybe, but the person responsible for delivering shareholder value bloody well should recognise your incompetence.