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Ethnic minority representation on FTSE 100 Boards on track to meet Parker Review target

Ethnic minority representation on FTSE 100 boards has increased from 52 companies to 81 in the past year.

An update from the Parker Review Committee, published in partnership with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), said this increase showed a “major change in the pace of progress”.  

This is despite the COVID-19 pandemic affecting board recruitment processes and demonstrates there is still time to meet the Review’s ‘One by 2021’ target, the committee said.

Twenty-one FTSE 100 companies had no ethnic minority representation on their boards In November 2020. There were also three firms that did not respond and two unable to provide information.

Yet progress remains slower in the key functional roles of boards across the FTSE 100 companies that responded to the survey, given only five ethnic minority directors are CEO.

Two occupy a chair role, one man and one woman, and four men occupy a CFO role. 

This is compared to six ethnic minority directors that held CEO or chair position in 2020, all of whom are men.

Thirty-six per cent ethnic minority directors identify as British citizens, while 11% sit on two or more FTSE boards.

Of the 118 ethnic minority directors in the FTSE 250, 54 (46%) are women, which is an increase of 42% compared to 2020. 

John Parker, chairman of the Parker Review Committee, said the progress was encouraging.

He said: “Achieving this result demonstrates committed leadership by FTSE 100 Chairs, their boards, and the headhunting community, to align with the Review’s ethnic diversity objectives. 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.”

Yet Kenneth Olisa, advisor to the Parker Review, warned that progress needed to continue in order for it to be sustainable.

He said: “There is much more to be done on the pipeline, to bring minorities into executive committees and, ultimately, in the boardroom. Board diversity is a driver of competitive advantage – talent must rise up the corporate pyramid no matter what colour it is.”

“The Parker Review’s target of ‘One by 21’ is now within reach. The next challenge will be to make that achievement sustainable. There would be little point in hitting our target next December only for us to return to business as usual in January.”

The Parker Review Committee was commissioned by BEIS in 2015 to consult on the ethnic diversity of UK boards.