#women

Sports Illustrated defines our woke age

You have to hand it to society nowadays. So desperate are people to appear virtuous they will go above and beyond to prove themselves worthy. Sports awards tend to be a mix of on-field performance and off-field service to promote the game for the greater good.

Megan Rapinoe has won the Sports Illustrated 2019 Sportsperson of the Year. Yes, the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) has won the Soccer World Cup back to back. It is an admirable achievement even though the USWNT were defeated 5-2 by a bunch of 14yo boys from Dallas.

260m watched the Women’s Soccer World Cup final in 2019. The 2018 men’s World Cup in Russia saw 1.12bn tune in for the final. 4.3x the audience. Sponsors are well aware of this and tailor advertising dollars accordingly. If the women’s teams garnered more eyeballs, we can be guaranteed women would be paid more.

Unfortunately, Rapinoe is such a dreadful role model for children even though she ticks the diversity and LGBT boxes. Her profanity-laden victory parade speech (in front of kids) after the World Cup win (from 6:30 in the video) was all class. All about identity politics and screaming for “equal pay” even though the stats reveal the USWNT gets more funding than the men’s team (USMNT). The USMNT generates more revenues, despite the poorer results.

Yet Rapinoe defines the age. All about equal pay regardless of revenue generated. Perhaps every soccer player in the world should be benchmarked against Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus. Perhaps his 81mn Twitter followers and talent allow him to charge a premium for his services which the market is willing to bear i.e. $108mn in 2019. Neymar should be up in arms for the pithy $90m at Real Madrid! Surely those on the bench should be protesting the fact they aren’t on an even playing field! Equal Pay, Equal Pay!

If Sports Illustrated truly wanted to brand a female success story in sports against the odds and shove it in the face of the white patriarchy, they could have championed the brilliance of 21yo Spanish rider Ana Carrasco, who became the first-ever woman to win a world motorcycle racing championship competing alongside men. She won the World Supersport 300s crown. If there was ever a better display of rising to a challenge in a sport dominated by males, this was it! She beat them all! More than that she embodies great sportsmanship.

CM wrote in January about her first-ever race win last year on equal machines with the boys. Shows that grit, determination and skill can make the difference without this recent desire to throw handicaps to even it out. Great job indeed to win on identical bikes.

Rapinoe is a talent in her own right. No one can dispute that. It is just a shame that it comes with all unnecessary identity politics based bluster.

Perhaps Sports Illustrated should heap lashings of praise on the Football Federation of Australia’s (FFA) kneeling at the altar of political correctness by carrying through with equal pay. Little does the FFA realise that pandering to social justice does nothing to win over fans. Because if the right talent isn’t paid accordingly, an overseas league will quickly bid the best players away and hollow out the local market. Attendance will drop and the revenues and sponsorship dollars will dry up with it. Doesn’t require rocket science.

The Aussie women’s Matildas achieved a peak crowd attendance of 16,829. The men’s Socceroo team saw 77,060 supporters at ANZ Stadium on 15 November 2018. 4.6x more fans watched the men’s national team over the women’s. It is nothing to do with gender. Fans prefer watching the men’s game, including women. Because of that, sponsors are willing to pay for greater exposure.

That isn’t casting aspersions on the female players per se. It is just that sports will always be driven by the sponsorship dollar. In certain fields, men get paid more than women. Perhaps male supermodels should take umbrage that Kate Moss gets paid multiples more for the same job.

Fauxcahontas throws a gutter ball

Democrat presidential nominee Elizabeth Warren was asked at a town hall meeting at a bowling alley about her claims to be Native American. Here is the video of her reply.

Confirming what everyone already knew, Warren said,

I am not a person of color, I am not a citizen of a tribe, and I have apologized for confusion I’ve caused on tribal citizenship, tribal sovereignty, and for any harm that I’ve caused.

Confusion? Hijacking an identity for the sole purpose of advancing one’s career. Couldn’t be much clearer.

Talk about inauthenticity. To try to pin it on her parents for leading her to believe that identity. Imagine the presidential debates if she wins the nomination. Grab your popcorn.

Stanford whackademic suffers chronic TDS

One would think dropping US$70,000pa on an education at Stanford University would provide ample opportunities to be taught by the best of the best.

Sadly, Stanford law Professor Pamela Karlan suffers from acute Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS). She used the impeachment hearings to make a glib joke about President Trump’s son, Barron. She said, “The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.” She later apologized.

She also mentioned that she was so repulsed by Trump that she had to cross the road when walking past his hotel. One would hope she could act her age.

Yet the Democrats think Karlan represents the best-in-class to be a key witness to testify against Trump?

CM has no issue with her donating to the party of her choice (DNC) but her partisan bias is so blinding that she only undermined her own credibility to act in such a juvenile way.

When Democrat Party presidential nominees talk of wiping out student debt CM now sees the method in the madness. If Karlan is thought of as a top drawer university professor, she only proved how worthless getting a tertiary education is. CM would also ask for his money back. Whackademia at its finest.

Rugby Australia chokes on its own incompetence

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After exchanging a politically correct, vomit-inducing and nose-bleedingly insincere prepared statement drafted by professional media consultants -not lost on anyone – the fact remains that Rugby Australia (RA) is the loser in the Israel Folau saga. We can forget the original source of the dismissal and the rights and wrongs of it. If RA thought it had a proper case, the legal fees (which it claimed were worth saving and settling out of court) would have been way less than the $10m payout he was demanding. So much for supporting the very communities the RA plasters all over its website.

The outcome was the result of management incompetence in thinking that appearing woke trumped legal due process. In full knowledge that Folau had a $1.6mn war chest (courtesy of Christians, free speech advocates and rugby fans alike) to take up the case against his former employer, the board was forced to buckle and issue an apology to the former rugby star, which would never have been necessary if it had a smidgen of judgment in the beginning.

RA CEO Raelene Castle can laugh off “wildly inaccurate” speculation on the $8mn rumoured settlement but the fact is the board knows the exact amount. Israel and Maria Folau wouldn’t have been grinning like Cheshire cats were he to have signed away for less than his rescinded contract. It will be fascinating to see the composition of the 2019/20 reported figures that will be published in due course. Expect some accounting trickery to fudge it into the numbers.

Castle said a few months back that the franchise could weather paying out Izzy Folau’s $10m claim. Although CM is not sure that paying out $10m + costs – which would wipe out almost 2/3rds of the $18mn in cash on the balance sheet – is something a CEO should think is worth boasting about. What she has long needed to focus on is arresting the declining operating performance. Yet she stated emphatically that the RA won’t have to make changes to the budget. Maybe her lawyers pieced together a multi-year drawdown of the sum to be paid to smooth out the ultimate impact. 

The RA franchise is the laughing stock of the rugby world. So transparent is the lack of accountability, woeful internal coordination and deteriorating financial results that it requires nothing more than a drastic overhaul if the entity is to thrive.

Former coach Michael Cheika let loose that it was no secret he had no relationship with the CEO and a very poor one with Chairman Cameron Clyne. This coming from the very individual running by far the biggest RA franchise. Despite possessing by far the worst performance record of any Wallabies coach, management persevered with a man who didn’t have a leg to stand on but cast aspersions on the executive team.

Therein lies the problem. RA can push all of the woke causes (e.g. LGBTQI+, gender equality) it likes, but if the ultimate end customer derives no value from it, it is a fruitless exercise which can’t escape the scrutiny of the free market come time to pay bills.

Castle may believe that this was a commercial decision for the sake of providing certainty. Had she done the right thing from the start she could have avoided getting embroiled in a scandal that has exposed the poor governance within.

Isn’t it odd that the LGBT activists are now attacking the very institution that set out to promote them – RA. CM has never thought much of his tweets but the reaction to them has been so over the top. The faux outrage mob finds oppression in everything.

Castle should resign and if she won’t the board should fire her despite her defiance against the bleeding obvious – she is in over her head. Fans won’t return with the status quo.

Get woke, go broke.

Harvey Norman Derangement Syndrome

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CM attended today’s Harvey Norman (HVN) AGM as an observer. This was a 2-hr lesson in HVN Derangement Syndrome by a handful of shareholder activists.

Two key takeaways – 1) there was overwhelming shareholder support for reappointments to the board, & 2) agitator and activist Stephen Mayne did little more than draw the ire of the audience as he rattled off what he believed to be a value-added commentary on the company’s approach to governance and supposed lack of independence, neither which he made a credible case for.

The ultimate irony expressed by Mr Mayne was his confession that he and his proxies would be voting FOR the reappointment of CEO Katie Page as a director, despite his constant interjections at the questionable state of governance at the firm. Seems 91% of shareholders want her to stay. Hardly a vote of no confidence.  Surely if he believed the board is the worst on the ASX for governance, why own shares at all? Crikey!

The flipside was the proposal for Mayne’s appointment to the HVN board received a 91% rejection by shareholders, reflective of their desire to maintain a winning formula. Chairman Gerry Harvey quipped, “who are the 8% of shares that voted for you?

Perhaps the area of focus by the media will be when Gerry Harvey decided to demolish Mayne by running through his trail of digital footprints, including one which described the activist ranking Aussie female politicians by looks with lewd comments such as “oozing sex and fun”, “very very tasty” and “dark, sensual and very attractive.” The chairman questioned whether Mayne was a “sexual predator?” Inappropriate? Whatever one’s personal view, Harvey and most present won’t be losing any sleep over it. Mayne can’t complain at being deprived of time on the microphone. Harvey was harsh but more than fair. It was not lost on anyone.

Mayne said to the media afterwards that, “He’s the worst in the market for governance and he’s only proved it here.” CM only hopes for more Gerry Harvey’s in the market. The leaders that don’t bend to all of the ridiculous woke causes which prioritise irrelevant factors over shareholder returns. As we pointed in an earlier CM, those industry super funds which prioritise social responsibility have all underperformed the ASX200.

It was hard not to be impressed by the global expansion. Katie Page ran through the enhanced footprint throughout Malaysia, Singapore, Ireland, Croatia and the poshing up of stores domestically to a premium standard.

This company has 18% compound returns since its listing. Dividend yield at present is 8%. One for the SMSF. This is a quality business. Management has conviction. There is a tangible track record.

Who on earth would want the likes of an activist who has now been rejected 50 out of 50 times to join ASX boards to occupy a spot at HVN? With such a resounding defeat, will Mayne sell his minuscule shareholding and move on? There are plenty of companies that will indulge Mayne’s desire for woke practices. This was nothing more than a display of Harvey Norman Derangement Syndrome.

Do as we say, not as we do

Take that. Despite living with the irony that half of the members of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) fail to meet the very diversity quotas they expect ASX200 companies to hit, what a complete laughing stock to publicly tell conference organisers it won’t join unless there is a guarantee of gender balanced speaker participation. How about try to get the best diversity of thought for a speaking panel regardless of their identity? There won’t be a man in the audience who complains at a panel of superstar women speakers.

The ACSI demands are listed here. A default letter the ACSI uses is as follows.

“SAMPLE RESPONSE TO EVENT INVITATIONS

Thank you for your invitation to speak at [name of event]. ACSI has taken the Panel Pledge and will only participate in events which are gender diverse and inclusive. Before accepting your invitation, I’ll need some additional information to determine whether this event is consistent with our commitment.

Can you please confirm the following:

– Will there be a gender balance among speakers at this event?
– Will speaking roles be allocated equitably among genders?

If I agree to participate in this event, I reserve the right to withdraw later should I become aware there will not be a gender balance among speakers.

Thanks in advance for your support of our efforts to promote gender diversity.”

What if the ACSI was offered a chance to speak next to Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk for the third and final slot at an investor conference? Would ACSI turn it down to stick to its principlesb or be the first in line to take selfies to upload to Instagram?

Get woke, go broke.

ESG Blacklisted portfolio

ESG (Environment, Social Responsibility & Governance) blacklisted stocks. We all know deep in our hearts that vices are far more fun than virtues. Real Coke tastes better than Diet Coke. Full cream is better than skim. McDonald’s fries are tastier than mashed potato. CM made this point in yesterday’s piece on the irresponsibility of socially responsible investing for building a retirement nest-egg given the long term underperformance.

When all of this politically correct ESG investing meets a recession, these oversold anti-ESG darlings, many with gobs of free cash will look like total bargains. Suffice to say in a downturn, vices tend to be what people resort to.

All CM cares about is the G in ESG. Governance is a must for investing. E & S are merely subjective views which don’t automatically convert to shareholder value. Good governance goes without saying.

So perish the thought that CEOs, like Harvey Norman’s Katie Page are being attacked by the likes of Ownership Matters which thinks putting in a shareholder activist who has failed 49 times out of 49 to be appointed to ASX listed boards is a better bet? As Janet Albrechtsen of The Australian wrote,

A copy of the report obtained by The Australian reveals Ownership Matters has recommended that Stephen Mayne be elected to the board of the retailer, even though the 50-year-old has no corporate experience in retail or property, no corporate board experience and no corporate management experience…Harvey Norman has a market capitalisation of $5.2bn, and shares in the retailer have gained more than 32 per cent over the past year, outperforming the 16.4 per cent gain in the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 over the same period…The advice sent out on Monday has baffled Ms Page’s husband, the business’s billionaire co-founder Gerry Harvey, who remains its largest shareholder, retaining ­direct ownership of almost a third of the company. “I have been on a public company board as chairman since 1972, and I have never seen anything as bizarre as the fact that the best ­retail executive in Australia is to be replaced by a ratbag called ­Stephen Mayne who has been a proven failure … every time he’s run for a board seat,” Harvey said.