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Boardrooms Minus 'Erotic Capital' Please

Posted on August 20, 2011 at 5:10 AM

I'm not going to spend £20 on Catherine Hakim's new book 'Honey Money': The Power of Erotic Capital.' And it isn't because an (uncharacteristically bland) review of it by Lucy Kellaway appeared in today's Financial Times under the tantalising headline 'Beauty and the boardroom'.

Sorry - I had a deja vu Josef Ackermann moment. It wasn't pleasant.

I'm grateful for The Guardian's review of the same book, mainly because it quotes so much of the origonal text. That is, if you need any persuading in terms of the argument of hanging on to £20 as the world dips into recession.

Dr Catherine Hakim is a sociologist at the London School of Economics. Her book is published by Allen Lane, owned by Penguin Books, owned by Pearson plc (which owns the FT). The article which apparently forms the basis for the book was published by Prospect magazine in 2010. Prospect magazine is edited by David Goodhart, who is married to Lucy Kellaway. Too many connections.

As soon as I discovered that the subtitle of 'Honey Money'  was 'the world smiles at good-looking people and they smile back', I couldn't take it seriously. To compound the idiocy of it - and presumably to make it sell, Ms Hakim spends a lot of time talking about 'erotic capital.'

Ms Kellaway sums up the only thing to be said about the book, (although when she talks about the US I can only assuming she is excluding all of Manhattan) : "Hakim is quite right on one central point: women in the UK and the US are not brought up to make the best of themselves, as French women are. We are taught that beauty is the poor cousin of brains; we are hung up about flaunting it."

Very true.But for those who are actually taking the business of doing something about wasted female talent in the UK's plcs and boardrooms seriously, taking the debate in this direction is just depressing.

Ironically, The Guardian's review  is both written in the style of a rant and is in the Life/Style/Women section, where it sadly does belong. I'm not sure anyone comes out of this particularly well, but I would hope that Honey Money is not going to be responsible for any of the strength of my shares in Pearson plc.


Categories: Women, Corporate, Behaviour