Top British Firms Given 4 Years To Appoint Non-White Directors

“Head-Hunt For non-Whites” Or Be Fined

FROM: The Guardian

Britain’s biggest companies have been given four years to appoint one board director from an ethnic minority background as part of a package of measures outlined in a government-backed review into the lack of diversity at the top of corporate Britain.

Sir John Parker, the chairman of the mining company Anglo American, who conducted the review, said it should be a wake-up call for major companies that only 85 of the 1,050 director positions in the FTSE 100 companies were held by people from ethnic minorities.

The companies in the FTSE 100 have been told to end their all-white boardrooms by 2021 while those in the FTSE 250, the next tier of companies on the stock market, have until 2024. The target is voluntary, but companies that fail to comply will have to explain why.

Parker was first linked to the diversity campaign in 2014 when Sir Vince Cable was business secretary and set a goal to end all all-white boards by 2020.

He began a formal review last year and said the four-year target was the same as that adopted by the former Standard Chartered chief executive Mervyn Davies after his review into the number of women on boards which was launched 2011. Lord Davies set goal for 25% of FTSE 100 boardroom seats to be held by women by 2015.

The business minister, Margot James, said there was more to work to be done and urged companies to adopt the voluntary guidelines. An annual review will be conducted to try to measure the diversity of boardrooms.

UK citizens from ethnic minorities make up 14% of the population but only account for 2% of director positions. Fifty-one of the FTSE 100 companies have no people from ethnic minorities on their boards.

Parker said: “The databases of a number of executive search firms demonstrate that a range of ethnically diverse eligible candidates, who could be considered for a number of job specifications in the boardroom, are available now. As time passes, this pool of talent will be enhanced and grow.”

Parker said the nomination committees of all FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies, which appoint directors, should tell their human resources teams or headhunters to find non-white candidates for vacancies.

Neil Carberry of the employers’ body, the CBI, said the targets were practical and that companies should make progress now.