Most of Britain’s top companies now have at least one minority ethnic board member, the government-backed Parker review, set up to improve the diversity of UK boards, said on Wednesday.
Improving boardroom diversity has become a hot topic for policymakers and investors in recent years, as many believe it helps address social inequalities and leads to better decision-making and performance over time.
“Our December 2021 target of every FTSE 100 company having at least one board director from a minority ethnic background has very nearly been met,” said Sir John Parker, who chairs the committee.
“We have also secured commitments from many of the outstanding companies which mean it is likely that circa 97% of current FTSE 100 companies will comply with the target by the middle of the year.”
Last year, the number of FTSE 100 companies to meet the voluntary target rose to 89 from 74, and now a further five have done so. Three have committed to do so and are in the advanced stages of recruiting.
Of the three companies yet to commit, the defense firm Meggitt is in the process of being acquired and will delist, and the Russian steel and mining company Evraz is about to exit the FTSE 100. The third is Dechra Pharmaceuticals.
Among the FTSE 250 of medium-sized firms, 128 companies now meet the target ahead of an end-2024 deadline, it added. The targets for both the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 were set in 2017.
However, many companies are still failing to bring through diversity in executive roles, with only six FTSE 100 CEOs from a minority ethnic background, and 16 at companies on the FTSE 250.
The business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “While there is still more to do, today’s findings demonstrate the great strides being made – particularly at FTSE 100 level – to increase ethnic diversity on boards, as more of Britain’s biggest companies recognize the business case for diversifying their teams so that they better reflect the society we live in. “