Number of FTSE 100 black executives falls to zero
The number of black executives holding top positions at FTSE 100 companies has fallen to zero. We have a problem, writes diversity champion Kayleigh Graham.
It’s February 2021 and according to data compiled by Green Park, when looking at the UK’s biggest companies, not one of their CFO, CEO or chair roles was filled by a black person. An only ten of 297 (3.4%) leaders in the top three roles have ethnic minority backgrounds. The figure hasn’t been this low since 2014.
At FTSE100 board and executive committee level, the percentage of black executives (1.1%) has also fallen below Green Park’s first report in 2014 (1.3%). Numbers in the leadership pipeline has dropped from 1.4% to 0.9% in the last year.
What is happening?
The last 12 months have seen organisations posting their support for the black lives matter movement, reaching out to black employees for their feedback and thoughts and yet for the first time in at least six years, there is not one black person at the top of any of these companies.
Green Park chairman Trevor Philips said, "It is time that shareholders, consumers and employees start questioning whether Black Lives Matter is just rhetoric rather than reality”, and I have to agree.
"We know there is no shortage of qualified candidates to fill these roles if companies are willing to look. Yet the snowy peaks of British business remain stubbornly white".
In 2017, UK officials set a diversity target for FTSE 100 companies to have at least one board member from a minority background and yet according to the Parker Review. And as of last winter, only 37% of those surveyed do.
I would urge everyone to take a look at the report and spend some time digesting the information as there are clear downward trends in the amount of black and minority representation and talent in the pipeline.
In 'Not being racist' is not enough, I emphasised the importance of being aware of your own individual biases, educating yourself on the topic and increasing awareness/conversation about racism and diversity. I stand by this, however, we also need to instigate real change and start holding organisations accountable.
If you told your employees last year that there would be an increased focus on diversity and inclusion, what have you done since?
If you haven’t made any change, why is that? Have you been honest about that? What are you going to do now?
If you have made changes, what are they? Have you communicated with them? Have you asked for feedback? What are you going to do next?
As an employee, if you were told things were going to happen, have they? What do you think about the changes that have/have not been made? Have you provided this feedback?
I often use the word ‘clumsy’ to describe some of the early-stage conversations that will happen as people begin to challenge biases and behaviour and implement new diverse and inclusive strategies/behaviours. Instigating change and holding people accountable is not about creating more animosity. It’s about asking people to reflect and be truly honest and then take real action.
With regard to the FTSE 100 companies, I hope that this report will have forced a light onto the clear issues that they have in terms of diversity and the obvious work that needs to be done to rectify this.
The conversations from last year need to continue and that will only happen if we keep bringing these issues to the forefront.
Black Lives Still Matter.
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Kayleigh began her career in corporate and commercial banking, before working at an alternative lender and most recently joined the partnerships team at Capitalise, a fintech adviser-led funding platform, designed to empower accountants to help their clients discover and access the funding they need to succeed.