A new report highlights that whilst diversity has generally improved within the top companies, many women and people from minority backgrounds are still being sidelined for the most senior positions.

A new analysis conducted by Green Park, a consultancy centred around D&I, has found that ethnic minority groups as well as women are still being consigned to positions which are less likely to culminate in C-suite roles.

One of the largest changes documented by the report found that, for the first time since 2014, there were no Black Chief Executive Officers, Chief Financial Officers or Chairs within the FTSE 100.

The report further highlighted the failure to increase black executive leadership which has remained at 0.6 per cent over the last eight years.

Furthermore, the female and ethnic minority representation at the Top 40 level was shown to be in decline.

Within this, it was found that female and ethnic minority leaders were found to be side-lined into roles which were less likely to result in senior positions. This included functions such as HR and Marketing and Communications.

In fact, ironically, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was found to be one of the least diverse functions in the corporate world with almost two in three positions (62.5 per cent) being held by white females.

This was opposed to ethnic minority females holding around a fifth of roles (22.9 per cent) whilst ethnic minority males held just six per cent of positions.

Conversely, the sectors which were more likely to lead to C-Suite positions were found to be overwhelmingly dominated by white men including Digital, Data and Technology (76 per cent), Commercial and Procurement (71 per cent) and Finance (69 per cent).

Despite this apparent regression, the report indicated many positive signs also.

Analysing the Top 20 level, including board and executive committee, female and ethnic minority representation has continued to steadily increase.

With ethnic minority representation in this arena now reaching 13.1 per cent, FTSE 100 Non-Executive roles have surpassed proportionate representation based on the 2011 ONS working age population of 12.8 per cent non-white.

Female representation in Top 20 roles has also continued to steadily rise since 2014, climbing from just 12.3 per cent to around a third (33.2 per cent). At this pace of change, it will take less than a decade (eight years) to achieve gender balance across both boards and executive committees.

Key recommendations laid out in the report include:

  • Being an active ally – Requiring a self awareness of one’s own privilege and then using this to proactively rebalance the status quo.
  • Measuring rates of retention, attrition, promotion and job satisfaction – In addition, targets should be be tied to bonuses for company Chairs and Senior Independent Directors, with these leaders held responsible for meeting pay gap targets and upholding D&I policies.
  • Appointing a Chief Diversity Officer who has “the credentials, expertise and lived experience” to build the knowledge to support an inclusive work culture.
  • Broadening decision making in organisations across ethnic and gender boundaries – If decision making is undertaken by an all-male grouping or an all-white group, the fact should always be minuted and noted in their annual report.
  • Driving supplier diversity and demanding diverse candidates

Lord Karan Bilimoria, Chair and Founder of CBI, stated:

We must transform words and promises into action and results. We as business leaders must do more to improve the diversity of our boards and leadership teams.

What I hear from my conversations with Chairs and CEOs is a clear desire to make progress and an openness to embracing new thinking that’s needed to deliver change.

We must all do better in listening to colleagues from underrepresented groups and challenge behaviours that create barriers for talent to progress.


*This research has been outlined in Green Park Business Leaders Index 2021- FTSE 100.