The number of black individuals at the top of Britain’s biggest companies has fallen to zero, a new report has revealed.
Research compiled by recruitment agency Green Park shows that for the first time since the firm started its analysis back in 2014, there are no black chairs, CEOs or CFOs in the FTSE100 (^FTSE).
Trevor Phillips, a British writer, broadcaster and former politician who is chair of Green Park, said: “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.”
He urged shareholders, consumers and employees to question “whether Black Lives Matter is just rhetoric rather than reality.”
The lack of diversity is “despite years of public commitments from government and business to increase ethnic diversity at leadership levels,” the report said.
Currently, only ten of 297 (3.4%) leaders in top roles have ethnic minority backgrounds, the same proportion as when Green Park began their analysis.
At board and executive committee level, the percentage of black executive directors and non-executive directors (1.1%) in FTSE 100 firms has also fallen since Green Park’s first report (1.3%).
Meanwhile other minority ethnic board members (Muslim, Hindu and Sikh, and Chinese and East Asian) have seen a slight uptick across the same period.
“The prospects for future increases in black representation at the highest levels of British business also look slim, with numbers in the leadership pipeline decreasing over the past year from 1.4% to 0.9%,” the report noted.
The report was released in conjunction with the UK’s first Race Equality Week, taking place in the first week of February. It is an initiative meant to unite organisations and individuals to address the barriers facing race equality in the workplace.
It has been co-founded by Green Park following the Black Lives Matter movement that sprang to life last year and the “disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ethnic minority communities.”
Green Park is calling for organisations to tackle issues facing race equality, “not only because it is the fair and moral thing to do,” but because it believes “the success of British business post-Brexit relies on it.”
Thousands of people around the world took to the streets last year to protest against racism and to show unprecedented support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In response, companies received fierce public backlash for saying that ‘Black lives matter,’ having seemingly not shown true commitment to fighting racial injustice.
Following that, companies across the world pledged money, launched programmes, and assessed what they need to do to bring about change. For instance, Citi pledged $1bn (£790m) to battle racial inequality.
Meanwhile, a report from last month showed that black and minority (BME) workers were hit significantly harder by the employment crisis sparked by COVID-19 in the last year than their white counterparts.
One in 12 BME workers are now unemployed, compared to just one in 22 of white workers, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found.
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