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Britain’s boardrooms must diversify if they want to remain competitive

The ethnic make-up of the UK population and its workforce has changed considerably over the past 40 years

Around 14% of the UK population self-reports as being non-white, a figure that stood at just two% in 1971; however, it will come as no surprise to many that the boardrooms of UK companies do not represent this population, with just 1.5% of company directors being non-white UK citizens.

The critical figures talent managers need to know

This information comes thanks to the Parker Report, which is based on research conducted by Dr Doyin Atewologun of Queen Mary University of London. The report concludes that there is a pitiful lack of diversity in UK boardrooms, especially in the FTSE 100. Some 1,087 director positions were accounted for in 2016, with eight per cent of positions being held by non-whites; however, this number was dramatically reduced once UK citizenship was taken into account, underlining the ingrained lack of diversity within British institutions.

While the existing issue of cultural skew is already evident, the forecast for the future is not necessarily brighter. Considering existing population growth alongside immigration, around 30% of the UK population will identify as non-white by 2051; however, very little action has been set in place to ensure the boardrooms of the future will reflect these developments.

A successful boardroom needs to reflect Britain

Aside from the ethical implications of non-white ethnicities being locked out of our most important companies, there are also financial and security factors to consider. A company that does not represent the diversity of the population it seeks to engage cannot hope to remain relevant and in touch with its market.

The report goes on to say that embracing diversity in all its forms, including, ethnicity and gender, is the only way to guarantee a secure future. Talent from all over the UK and from all its sources will find a way to impact business and the economy, and the big 100 can either harness this talent or feel the pinch to their businesses from the competition.

The key recommendations

The report makes several recommendations for companies hoping to be better prepared in the future. Most significantly, it states that FTSE 100 and 250 businesses should advance mechanisms to recognise, advance and encourage minority ethnicities within their organisations. This should be carried out via a pipeline scenario, which will ensure that talent of all backgrounds is being given the training, experience and opportunity to move up through managerial and executive ranks appropriate to a career leading to the boardroom.

The report concludes that only when this is achieved will UK companies be best equipped to compete in the European and global economic market.

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