Damning figures show one third of FTSE 100 firms still do not have a single minority ethnic director
One third of FTSE 100 firms still do not have a single minority ethnic director, damning figures show.
Blue chip firms were urged to improve boardroom diversity following a landmark review of the issue by City grandee Sir John Parker three years ago.
But as Black Lives Matter protests take place, many Footsie members are still yet to take any action.
Inaction: Blue chip firms were urged to improve boardroom diversity following a landmark review of the issue by City grandee Sir John Parker
Lloyds Banking Group, fashion brand Burberry, Premier Inn owner Whitbread and house builder Taylor Wimpey are among the major names that have all-white boards.
Only 52 blue chip companies confirmed they had at least one black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) director at the end of last year, the minimum target Parker said they should achieve by the end of 2021.
That was just three more than when the review was first published in 2017. Another 31 companies admitted they had all-white boards, while 17 did not respond. If all those firms are included, the number missing the target rises to 48.
Yesterday the bosses of Tesco, ITV and BT – which have all met the target – were among signatories to an open letter calling for an end to the ‘cycle of inaction’ on ‘ethnic-minority inclusion in business’.
‘Organisations have not been ready to have a challenging and frank conversation about system racism within the four walls of their own offices,’ the letter said.
Parker, 78, said he hoped the public outcry over racism would also give businesses fresh impetus to tackle workplace inequality and meet the targets set by his review.
Parker, who chairs South West Water owner Pennon Group, told the Mail: ‘People have had more time to think about the world and the influence they can have or not have on it.
‘Everyone should be asking if they are doing enough. It is bound to have raised sensitivities in boardrooms. Some companies have done very well and some have still got to achieve the target.
‘Covid-19 has definitely disrupted recruitment but that goal is still there and I think will be achieved because it is the right thing to do.’
Big Four consulting firm EY, which assisted with the 2017 review, said businesses needed to become more comfortable with discussing race. Arun Batra, a partner at the firm, added: ‘If FTSE boards are to meet the Parker Review target, then they need to transform intent into action.’