Business Maverick

Business Maverick

FTSE 100 Firms Are Making Slow Progress on Race at Board Level

Skyscrapers including 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the 'Walkie-Talkie', left, the Leadenhall building, 30 St Mary Axe and the Heron Tower on the horizon as a pedestrian walks across a footbridge in the Canary Wharf business, finance and shopping district at dusk in London on Tuesday, 8 July 2014. (Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg_

Ethnic minorities made up about 12% of board directors at firms in the FTSE 100 Index in November, largely unchanged from a year earlier, highlighting a continued lack of diversity at companies that make up the country’s main stock benchmark.

Only about one-third of the ethnic minorities on the boards identify as British citizens, according to the Parker Review, which was set up by the U.K. government to examine the ethnic makeup of boardrooms. It follows separate research published earlier this year that found there are no Black chairs, chief executive officers or chief financial officers at any company in the FTSE 100.

Finance firms including BlackRock Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are pushing companies around the world to hire more directors from diverse backgrounds in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, whose death sparked global social justice protests.

The Investment Association, whose members manage more than 8.5 trillion pounds ($11.9 trillion) of assets, has joined the call for more people of color on U.K. boards, saying companies now need to reflect the country’s make-up. The IA has an all-white board.

The Parker Review set a target in 2017 for each company in the benchmark to have at least one director from an ethnic minority background by the end of this year.

“Significant progress” has been made toward meeting that goal despite the pandemic, Sir John Parker, chairman of the Parker Review Committee, said in a statement on Friday. About 20% of companies had no ethnic minorities on their boards as of March, compared with about one in two in January 2020.

“We would hope the remaining companies in the FTSE 100, who still have time to meet the target, will ensure they follow this encouraging lead and align with the business case that underpins the review,” he said.

More than 40% of London residents identified as being either Asian, Black, Mixed or Other ethnic group in the 2011 census. For the U.K., the number was 14%.

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