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More ethnic minority directors on British boards, but fewer CEOs

Mar 12, 2021

By Huw Jones and Simon Jessop

LONDON (Reuters) – More than 80% of Britain’s blue chip companies have a director from a minority ethnic group, bringing an end-of-year voluntary target within reach, a committee that surveys diversity on corporate boards said.

However, minority ethnic representation at the summit of the executive ladder remains limited, falling from last year, the government-backed Parker Review Committee said.

Among the FTSE 100 companies, 74 had minority ethnic representation on their boards in November 2020, with a further seven having made appointments since then. This compares with 52 companies in January 2020.

The jump follows a year in which racial inequalities have come under increasing public scrutiny following the killing of George Floyd in the United States that sparked a wave of protests across the world and calls for faster change.

Amid broad calls for action from across society, companies globally have been pushed to ramp up their efforts, and leading institutional investors including BlackRock said they will hold companies to account on the issue.

While welcoming the “significant progress” on improving the ethnic diversity of FTSE 100 boards, the committee said that, across the companies that responded to the survey, only five ethnic minority directors occupied a CEO position – down from six in 2020 – and four a CFO role.

With the target of one director from an ethnic minority background per FTSE 100 company now within reach, it said, the next tier of 250 companies would be surveyed towards the end of the year as they work towards a “one by 2024” target.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by John Stonestreet)