An analysis of the boards of the UK’s top companies has revealed a continuing lack of black, Asian and minority ethnicity (BAME) directors and a paucity of senior female executives.
The research from DiversityQ looked into the composition of the UK’s FTSE 100 boardrooms. It highlighted that more needs to be achieved in terms of BAME and gender representation, as well as in appointing people who are LGBT+ or disabled, including those with physical and hidden conditions.
Cheryl Cole, editor of DiversityQ and co-author of the report, said: “Right now, 25% of primary school children in the UK are BAME, which means we need to be creating more inclusive workplace cultures where those children are going to find their voice and flourish when they enter employment. The changing face of the demographics means that we need to be ready for all the right reasons.
“There is better representation of women in senior positions thanks to movements such as the 30% Club and the campaign to reduce the gender pay gap, but it still falls short of where it needs to be. The same applies to LGBT+ and disability inclusion. It is imperative that recent progress towards fairer representation continues unabated.”
A diversity breakdown
In terms of diversity, white males make up 62.% of boards and occupy 83.8% of executive directorships. White females make up just 28.2% of boards, male BAMEs 6% and female BAMEs 3.8%, according to The DiversityQ FTSE 100 Board Diversity Report 2020.
There are just 99 senior BAME people at board level, comprising 19 executive directorships and 80 non-executive directorships, the research revealed.
There are seven CEOs from an Asian or minority background, but no black CEOs.
In 2017, the government set a target of having at least one BAME board member by 2021 – an initiative coined ‘One by 21’, however, according to the independent Parker Review, it is unlikely to be met. DiversityQ’s research further found that nearly half (49%) of FTSE 100 companies still lack any BAME representation at board level.
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When it comes to the representation of women on boards, the proportion has slowly risen — growing to 33.2% by the end of 2019 from less than 7% two decades ago — but 89.5% of the roles are non-executive positions.
In total, there are 1,013 board members across the FTSE 100, comprising 326 executive directors and 687 non-executive roles. There are just 324 females holding directorships — only 32% of all boards — comprising 34 executive directorship positions and 290 non-executive directorships.
The recent departure of Alison Cooper from Imperial Brands means women now hold just five of the chief executive positions within the FTSE, down from seven last year.
Simon Stilwell, chief executive officer of Bonhill Group plc, parent company of DiversityQ.com, commented: “The boards of companies big and small are a perfect place to start affecting the positive change we all hope can come out of the dual crises of Covid-19 and racial injustice that have marked 2020 so far.’
Neil (Nilesh) Sachdev MBE, chairman of Bonhill Group plc, added: “Embracing and investing in the full spectrum of inclusivity is the most powerful weapon business has to create real change in society. Isolating this to one community, such as BAME, means we risk leaving talent behind such as LGBT+, female or those with disabilities.
“Research shows us companies that really get diversity right are more profitable, with higher employee retention on average than those that don’t. It is evident that good work is going on across some major companies and sectors, but the gauntlet is down for more to be done.”
The full report can be found here.
*All figures are as at 31 March 2020, sourced from publicly available information.