Is golf more important than managerial ability?

golf the key to boardroom successGetting gender equality in the boardrooms of our major organisations is still an ongoing concern for many, not least here at CMI.  A new study, reported in the Daily Telegraph, may go some way to explaining why so many board level appointments appear on the outside to be deeply incestuous.

The study was conducted over a 10-year period and investigated the board level appointments across a range of British companies.  The findings suggest that these appointments are far from a meritocracy and the old boys network is alive and kicking in British boardrooms.

For instance, it found that if you shared a golf club with a serving member of the board, your chances of getting the gig go up 400%.  If you are a member of the same private club as a serving board member your chances go up by 200%.

According to Dr Helen Simpson, of Bristol University, who lead the research: "Our findings suggest social connections through private members' clubs and golf clubs - as well as networks of contacts established through existing boardroom positions - may play a role in shaping who gains a seat on a board.

"Being a member of a golf club seems to be associated with a higher probability of gaining a board seat.

"But what appears to be more strongly related to the likelihood of being appointed is being a member of the same golf club as a director who already sits on the board." 

With CMI board elections underway at the moment, maybe instead of questioning the intellectual capabilities of the candidates, we should instead be asking which golf club they're a member of.

Adi Gaskell is a writer on management and social media.