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Widening 'diversity deficit' threatens UK competitiveness

The position of ethnic minorities in leadership roles within the FTSE 100 declines over the past year

BRITAIN’S biggest companies risk putting themselves at a serious disadvantage in domestic and global markets because of a widening “diversity deficit”, research into the country’s top 10,000 executives has found.

According to research by executive recruitment consultancy Green Park, the position of ethnic minorities in leadership roles within the FTSE 100 has declined over the past year, despite an increased corporate focus on diversity.

Just under two thirds of FTSE companies now have an all-white main board. Excluding non-executive directors, the number of companies with an all-white leadership board (executives and operating board directors), has jumped from 63 to 70.

Additionally, there are no senior east Asian or Chinese heritage executive directors on any main board in the FTSE 100, and fewer than 60 people of east Asian or Chinese heritage in the entire 10,000 in the study.

The news follows claims by the government’s social mobility watchdog that working class people are being “systematically” excluded from the best jobs at the UK’s top accounting, legal and financial service firms.

“Britain’s top 100 companies operate in a global market and need to continue to target growth in developing economies worldwide. Despite all the focus on increasing diversity… UK companies are getting less ethnically diverse rather than more over the past year,” said Raj Tulsiani, CEO of Green Park Group.

“China, Korea, Indonesia and Japan are some of the biggest and fastest growing markets so it’s astonishing to see from our research that there is not a single Chinese or east Asian heritage executive director within the FTSE 100.”

The decline in ethnic minority presence is more marked at the ‘pipeline’ Top 100 leadership level. The FTSE 100 has lost the equivalent of nearly 40 of its 480 non-white leaders at this level in the past twelve months, suggesting that the prospects for minority leadership at board level are decreasing rather than increasing.

“It’s particularly concerning to see that at pipeline level, we’ve lost such a large number of potential ethnic minority leaders, suggesting that the situation is likely to continue to worsen rather than improve in the future.”


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