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Lack of diversity 'could harm post-Brexit trade'

CONCERN: A lack of people from BAME grounds at board level could affect potential trade deals

A REPORT by executive diversity experts has found that the FTSE 100’s most senior managers are less ethnically-diverse in comparison to 2014, suggesting that the number of non-white chairs, chief executives and chief financial officers has fallen and little progress has been made in efforts to get black and minority ethnic (BAME) talent into top positions.

The report by Green Park showed that the number of FTSE 100 businesses with no ethnic minority representation at senior level has fallen from 62 to 58. Additionally, none of the companies have CEOs or chief financial officers who are women from ethnic minority groups.

Although there has been a rise in the number of non- white workers in the upper echelons of FTSE 100 companies, there appears to be a glass ceiling at the top levels of management.

According to Green Park’s chief executive, Raj Tulsiani, the findings should be a warning to the UK’s top companies as trade talks loom with countries outside the EU, including those in Africa and Asia. He said:

“In light of the UK’s desire to increase trade with non-EU countries, the ongoing inability of our leading
companies to attract and retain leaders from east Asian and African backgrounds should be of serious concern."

Tulsani continued:

"The UK's aspiration to be outward-looking and open to business with the non-European world is hardly enhanced by the continued lack of challenge in the boards of our leading companies, still statistically and behaviourally dominated by men of similar cultural and educational backgrounds.”

Last year, a government-backed review of ethnic diversity recommended that Britain’s top companies should aim to end all-white boardrooms by 2021.

The Beyond One by ’21' report, led by Sir John Parker, the outgoing chairman of the mining company Anglo American, said businesses were failing to promote sufficient numbers of people from ethnic minority groups to senior positions. It noted that the UK population and its workforce has changed dramatically over the past 40 years and will continue to do so.

It estimates that the UK will be the most diverse country in Western Europe by 2051, with more than 30 per cent of the population expected to be comprised of people from ethnic minority or migrant backgrounds.

Earlier this year, Dr. Omar Khan, director of the Runnymede Trust, the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank, said:

“We welcome the Parker Review and agree with their recommendation to ensure one ethnic minority board member in every FTSE 100 company in the next five years.

“We call on all organisations to set similar targets for ethnic minorities, at both board level, and at middle management, to ensure Britain gets the most of our country’s talent, improving both opportunities and economic success."

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