By Simon Jessop
LONDON – The majority of Britain’s top companies now have at least one ethnic minority board member, the government-backed Parker Review committee, set up to improve the diversity of UK boards, said on Wednesday.
Improving boardroom diversity has become a hot topic for policymakers and investors in recent years, as many believe it both helps to address social inequalities and also leads to better decision-making and performance over time.
“Our December 2021 target of every FTSE 100 company having at least one board director from a minority ethnic background has very nearly been met,” said John Parker, chairman of the Parker Review Committee.
“We have also secured commitments from many of the outstanding companies which mean it is likely that circa 97% of current FTSE 100 companies will comply with the target by the middle of the year.”
Last year, the number of FTSE 100 companies to meet the voluntary target rose to 89 from 74, and by March 2022, a further five had done so. Three have committed to do so and are in the advanced stages of recruiting.
Of the three companies yet to commit, one is in the process of being acquired and will delist, another is a Russian steel and mining company about to exit the FTSE 100, and the last is a UK subsidiary of a U.S. group, it said.
Most of the positions taken by ethnic minorities are non-executive, with only six in the position of chief executive of a FTSE 100 company, and 16 at a FTSE 250 company.
Among the FTSE 250, 128 companies now meet the target ahead of an end-2024 deadline, it added. The targets for both the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 were originally set in 2017.