Diversity in business has been a contentious topic, with company boardrooms traditionally ruled by one demographic: white men. Several government initiatives have been launched to improve the diversity of Britain’s top companies, with ex-business secretary Vince Cable setting a voluntary target for company boards to make sure 25% of their positions were held by women, after a report by Lord Mervyn Davies suggested that the numbers were severely imbalanced. Furthermore, in 2014 the 2020 campaign was launched to ensure that, by 2020, every FTSE 100 board had at least one ethnic minority member.

This year’s Green Park Leadership report shows that, whilst figures are improving, the numbers are not yet encouraging. This is the second of these reports by the company, who are committed to greater transparency in business and hope to provide robust benchmarks for companies. They provide intelligence and insight, strategic advice and recruitment support to leading companies, and are acting to try and change the lack of diversity in UK businesses.

Green Park’s survey was conducted on the FTSE 100 companies and published in April 2015. At the very top, the results are alarming; out of all the companies in the FTSE 100, only 3 chair were non white. 96 of the Chief Executive positions were white, as well as 95 Chief Financial Officers. According to the figures, there has actually been a decline in executive positions held by ethnic minorities, suggesting that opportunities  for advancement are unfortunately declining rather than increasing.

By sector, transport and utilities are the worst for diversity; out of 6 companies, there with no non-white members in top leadership positions. The construction and property sectors are almost as bad, with just 2.2% of top positions held by those from ethnic minorities. However, health and natural resources came out on top, with 15.9% and 11.7% respectively.

The natural resources sector is also one of the highest for women’s representation too, with 14.1% of their top positions held by females. The best for women is the utilities industry, at 29.7%.

If fact, news for women is far brighter across the board than for ethnic minorities. Following the Davies report, the percentage of women on boards has doubled and has now hit the 25% target, with 26.1%. The report showed that out of the ethnic minority leaders who did hold top positions, they were more likely to be women.

Whilst Green Park’s report has shown some progress for diversity, the low figures for ethnic minorities clearly highlights the need for diversity campaigns. Britain is, after all, applauded for its diversity, tolerance and accessibility for people of all backgrounds – so why doesn’t this show on the boards of the country’s top companies?

 

Miranda Wadham on 10/08/2015