Racial Diversity Neglected by Top British Firms

|Source: The Guardian

The Guardian reports today that Business Secretary, Vince Cable has accused UK's top companies of neglecting racial diversity in its boardrooms. 


He has also urged business to use a wider talent pool when making senior appointments.

"I can think of very few black people at the top end of British business. What we've been doing with gender is right, but diversity is more than that. The area is neglected. It needs serious consideration."

- Vince Cable,
Business Secretary

Vince Cables comments come of the back of the release of latest statistics on women in the boardroom that  revealed that 20.7% of FTSE 100 directors are female, up from 12.5% in 2011.

A recent study found that more than half of FTSE100 companies have no non-white directors and two-thirds have no full time minority executives at board level.  The study said that UK competiveness is put at risk by a lack of diversity in senior corporate roles.   The study was carried out by Trevor Philips, former equalities commission chair and Richard Webber of Kings College London.

In 2008 Race for Opportunity published research, Race to the Top, that examined  whether the multi ethnic and culturally diverse nature of British Society was being represented where it most counts, in the boardrooms and middle management of companies and organisations. 

I’m glad that Vince Cable has highlighted that there is a serious need for more black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) senior business leaders. Race for Opportunity has been working with our member organisations on increasing diverse leadership on boards and at senior level for almost 20 years, and although we have made progress there is still work to be done. Next month we will publish Race at the Top, a review of BAME leadership which will examine how much – if anything – has changed in the five years since we published our previous research on this issue. We believe the time has now come to have a conversation with the Government on how we can move forward on this agenda and ensure that the UK’s diversity is reflected at all levels of business.

- Sandra Kerr OBE,,
Race for Opportunity Director

In May 2014 new research:
Race at the Top : a review of BAME leadership in the UK will be launched further examining this issue and covering the concerns noted below.

The gap between BAME people in management and the overall population is widening not closing (evidenced through comparison of data in 2009 and 2014 report)

  • BAME representation in FTSE 100 companies has also declined
  • Across the majority of UK industries/sectors BAME representation in leadership positions is less than 6%.  In certain UK industries, BAME representation in management is non-existent.
  • Huge disparities exist in BAME representation at management levels across the English regions.
  • BAME workers in management positions operate within just three sectors in the UK.


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