Planning for the New World: A Q&A with Mark Atkinson
News 12th February 2020 3 minutes read
The release of the Parker Review last week made for dismal but predictable reading: FTSE 100 Boards are making “slow progress” on increasing ethnic diversity. Just as Green Park’s Leadership 10,000 report revealed in December 2019, the evidence is clear; Ethnic Minorities are still glued fast to the corporate floor, caught in the lower echelons of a leaky talent pipeline. No surprise that the Government’s ‘One by 2021’ target remains a distant goal.
Launched with EY and the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Sir John Parker’s Review report, reveals over a third (31 out of 83) of FTSE 100 Boards surveyed still lack any ethnic representation. This is despite the Parker Review’s recognition in 2017, that the ethnocultural make-up of Boards desperately needed to change, with a target to banish all white FTSE 100 Boards by the year 2021.
What about Chairs and CEOs? The figures are no less disheartening. The Parker Review counts just six ethnic minority Chairs and CEOs in the FTSE 100. While Green Park’s analysis of Chairs, CEO’s and CFO’s found no improvement in ethnic diversity representation in six years of monitoring. At Top 3 level, BAME representation has stalled at 3.3% - that’s ten – just ten individuals!
In addition, the 2020 Parker Review found FTSE 250 Boards to be even more homogenous than the FTSE 100 with 119, out of the 173 analysed (69%), to have no ethnic diversity on their boards. A total of 15 ethnic minority individuals hold CEO or Chair roles in the FTSE 350 -six in the FTSE 100 and nine in the FTSE 250.
In short, there’s been embarrassingly little progress towards government goals.
The recent Parker update acknowledges that hitting the target by 2021 will be “challenging” for FTSE 100 companies – a comfortingly vague term. However, our Leadership 10,000 report paints a starker and more worrying picture. According to Green Park research, which analyses the FTSE’s Executive Committees as well as the Boards, at the current rate of change it would take until 2039 to eliminate all white senior leadership teams – Executive and Non-Executive. This isn’t just disappointing – it’s disastrous news for businesses in the UK. And that’s why Green Park is calling for Board to invest properly in Diversity & Inclusion leadership.
If British business is serious about presenting a modern face to the world, it needs to follow the lead of companies in the US. Across the Atlantic, organisations are taking action by properly resourcing change. A Chief Diversity Officer is no longer optional; it’s become an essential hire. Failing to adopt similar approaches could mean UK business continues to fall behind. In a post-Brexit world, the UK must do all it can to remain a global competitor.
The Parker Review concludes by calling on companies to engage constructively on ethnic minority diversity issues, report more transparently, develop a diverse talent pipeline and recruit diverse talent proactively. As the Co-Founder of the UK’s fastest growing executive recruiter, and one which has built its reputation on the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion, I whole heartedly support the Parker Review’s recommendations.
Executive recruiters should be much more proactive in ‘marketing’ highly talented ethnic minority candidates and in complying with the Corporate Governance Code. I’m proud to say that Green Park fulfils these recommendations and has done for many years.
Since our inception, we’ve been advocating and championing the acceleration of high-caliber diverse ethnic minority leaders into some of the most senior executive and board positions. Our annual BAME 100 Business Leaders index showcases the UK’s leading ethnic minority talent and, year on year, has proven that diverse board-ready leaders are out there. In 2019, Green Park placed a new diverse leader on a board every 8 days. Our goal is to make that a daily occurrence by 2025!
With diversity of thinking comes innovation, progress and change. Let’s hope that our next Leadership 10,000 report brings more positive news. I know Green Park will be playing its part.
Throughout the year, Green Park monitors and maps diverse executive talent across the UK’s private, public & third sector organisations, producing extensive and varied talent pools of ethnic minority leaders. To find out how Green Park can help you implement the Parker Review’s recommendations, visit green-park.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.