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Bosses at nearly half of top UK firms are all white

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Trevor Phillips, chair of Green Park and founding chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Photo: PA

Almost half of Britain’s biggest companies have no ethnic minority board members or executive directors, according to a new study.

The number of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) board members has dropped over the past year at FTSE 100 firms, research published on Wednesday suggests.

Trevor Phillips, a leading equality campaigner and chair of Green Park, which conducted the research, said that rather than breaking the glass ceiling, “people of colour remained super-glued to the corporate floor.”

Green Park, a recruitment and diversity consultancy, is urging leading companies to appoint a chief diversity officer to tackle barriers to potential ethnic minority recruits.

The number of BAME chairs, chief executives and chief finance officers at FTSE 100 companies has not improved since Green Park’s first report five years ago, the company said.

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The company voiced concern about the chances of change when there was also little progress even lower down the ranks in the “leadership pipeline” of companies’ top 100 individuals. BAME representation was near-flat at 10.7%.

But while 47 of the top 100 companies still have no ethnic diversity at their board or director level, the number of all-white British boards has fallen by 14 in the past six years.

“At this rate of change it will take until 2039 before all FTSE 100 boards and executive committees have ethnic minority representation; a far cry from the Government backed target set out by Sir John Parker to have no all-white boards by 2021,” said the report.

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Phillips, founding chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, 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 FTSE100 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.

“If the UK’s companies continue to ignore the experience and actions of their US competitors, they risk falling behind. With this attitude, post Brexit, we can expect talented female and minority executives - just like many of our minority actors - to exit to the USA to get a break.”