Opinion: US retailers lead where FTSE 100 fails on leadership diversity

Steve Baggi

Our latest research has highlighted the ongoing failure of the UK’s biggest businesses to recognise the need for diverse talent at the top levels, with the total number of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) board members virtually flatlining over the past year.

Across the whole FTSE 100, there are only 10 ethnic minority chairs, chief executives and chief financial officers, and 47 companies have no BAME leaders on their boards and executive committees at all.

At this rate of change, it will take until 2039 before all FTSE 100 boards and senior leadership teams have ethnic minority representation – a far cry from the government-backed target set by Sir John Parker in 2016 to have no all-white boards by 2021.

While far from meeting proportional representation of the UK population (13%), retailers are bucking the trend of the overall findings at board and executive level, rising marginally to 5% from 3.1% in 2018, while the overall FTSE 100 has declined. However, with the leadership pipeline stagnating at 10.7% BAME in 2019 (10.6% in 2018), retailers would be right to be concerned about the prospects for future continuous improvement.

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