A fact is not data: it may not be representative

Even if a fact is cast-iron accurate, it’s meaningless if it’s handpicked — the exception that doesn’t prove the rule. Someone could trumpet a smoker who lived to 100, but hide the thousands of others who died from their habit.

Does only 2% of VC funding go to female founders?

Does only 2% of VC funding go to female founders?

A widely quoted statistic is that only 2% of VC funding goes to female founders. For example, this Forbes article highlights that "only 2% of all VC funding goes to women-led startups" and asks "Why is only 2% of VC funding going to female founders"? If true, this statistic is substantial underrepresentation and needs to be urgently addressed. However, it's problematic for several reasons. 1. The Statistic Ignores Diverse Teams The 2% ...
Successful companies are successful

Successful companies are successful

I was struck by the Harvard Business Review headline "Companies that Practice 'Conscious Capitalism' Perform 10x Better". On the one hand, it appealed to my confirmation bias. Conscious capitalism involves serving stakeholders, not just shareholders, in line with my book Grow the Pie and work on purposeful busienss more generally. On the other hand, the effects seemed too big to be true. If conscious capitalists could really perform ten times ...
Do women improve decision-making on boards?

Do women improve decision-making on boards?

Last week, Harvard Business Review published an article entitled "Research: How Women Improve Decision-Making on Boards". It was widely shared on LinkedIn and someone tagged me in it, given my research on diversity, equity, and inclusion. When I became Managing Editor of the Review of Finance, I appointed the first women to its board of editors in our 20-year history, so I'd like to believe the findings. However, it's important not to take claims at face value, particularly when ...
Does social purpose drive profit?

Does social purpose drive profit?

Someone thoughtfully sent me a Harvard Business Review article, ‘How Your Company's Social Purpose Can Also Drive Profit’, thinking I’d like it given my book Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit, gives a similar message. My confirmation bias led me to want to lap up the evidence uncritically, but unfortunately it’s extremely weak, even for HBR's standards. (I have written for HBR many times and it has many ...
Does Brexit cost the UK £100 billion per year?

Does Brexit cost the UK £100 billion per year?

Britain’s leave-voting areas are falling even further behind three years after Brexit. Our Levelling Up Scorecard shows how they are far more likely to face a widening wealth and opportunity gap relative to richer regions. That’s an excerpt from a Bloomberg Close email I received in January 2023.