Top British firms fail to raise boardroom diversity: Study


Recruitment consultancy Green Park has said that the total number of BAME board members, both executive and non-executive, fell to 7.4 per cent, from nearly 9 per cent in 2018 (Photo: DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images).
Recruitment consultancy Green Park has said that the total number of BAME board members, both executive and non-executive, fell to 7.4 per cent, from nearly 9 per cent in 2018 (Photo: DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images).

THE number of black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) board executives recorded a decline over the past year, latest study showed.

The latest study highlighted that the dip in the BAME top executive numbers is as a result of the UK companies’ failure to improve the ethnic diversity of their boardrooms.

Recruitment consultancy Green Park has said that the total number of BAME board members, both executive and non-executive, fell to 7.4 per cent, from nearly 9 per cent in 2018.

Green Park noted that the number of chairs, chief executives, and finance directors remained at 3.3 per cent.

The firm added that the UK’s FTSE 100 companies have been failing to follow their successful US counterparts.

Forty-seven companies still have no BAME members at board and executive director level, just 14 fewer than in 2014, the consultancy firm said.

There are only 10 chairmen, chief executives, and finance chiefs – 3.3 per cent of the total from this group.

It asked the companies to recruit a chief diversity officer, as 50 per cent of the US businesses have done.

The report also warned that failure to improve diversity or appoint a diversity officer would face “commercial risk, regulatory attention and losing key talent to global competitors”.

Chair of the consultancy firm and former equalities commission head Trevor Phillips said: “Our latest analysis shows that after five years of monitoring, the promise that things would change over time for ethnic minority leaders in the FTSE 100 looks just as empty as the corporate pipeline. Women are cracking the glass ceiling; but people of colour remain super-glued to the corporate floor.”

He warned: “If companies want to sell across the globe, particularly the Far East, Africa and South America, if they have a leadership that doesn’t look like the modern world, then actually they’re not going to be able to compete with, for example, Chinese companies.”

Green Park said its yearly Leadership 10,000 report analysed gender and ethno-cultural diversity in the top executive posts in the year to August.

It found continuing progress on gender diversity after an increase to 28.8 per cent female representation on boards.

However, BAME representation at board level had stalled.

Rakesh Kapoor, former boss of Reckitt Benckiser, and NMC Health boss Prasanth Manghat were born in India.

Two of the other 10 names on the list of top Indian-origin bosses are the majority owner and chair of NMC Health, Dr B R Shetty, and its finance director, Prasanth Shenoy.

The companies face rising pressure to address gender and ethnic disparities.

FTSE 350 businesses were on track to meet its objective of women taking a third of board seats by the end of 2020, said government-backed Hampton- Alexander Review recently.