Due to protests and discourse about the topic, racial diversity has become central to many businesses over the last year. However, new research finds that there are currently no black Chairs, CEOs or CFOs in the FTSE 100, raising questions about how far diversity and inclusion have really come.

New research compiled by Green Park, an executive diversity and recruitment agency, has found that, for the first time in six years, there are no Black Chairs, Chief Executive Officers or Chief Financial Officers in the FTSE 100.

This comes after several initiatives were put into place last year to encourage diversity amongst the top companies in the UK.

Last year, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) called on company boards to have at least one BAME member. Legal & General stated that they would actively vote against the re-appointment of the national committee chairman if companies did not have a BAME director by 2022.

However, since 2014, Green Park research showed that the number of black leaders first stalled and eventually fell to 0.

This contrasts against most other minority ethnic groups which have seen a rise – albeit a very small one- in the number of people from this background becoming leaders, since 2014.

As it stands, only 10 of the 297 leaders (3.4 per cent) are from ethnic minority backgrounds which was the same amount as when the records began in 2014.

This raises many questions around diversity quotas, the use of the term BAME to categorise varied people and experiences and why BAME talent is not being promoted to board level.

In addition to this, there has also been a decrease in the number of black Executive and Non-Executive Directors since the first report in 2014. Where this figure initially stood at 1.3 per cent in 2014, this has now fallen to 1.1 per cent.

This also appears as though it could become a sustained problem with the proportion of black representation in the leadership pipeline dropping from 1.4 per cent to 0.9 per cent.

This trend has been spotted across all ethnic minority groups with ethnic minority representation, in 2020, decreasing from 10.7 per cent to 9 per cent.

Recent research conducted by the Black British Business Awards also found that ethnic minority professionals face challenges when trying to advance from middle management to senior management.

Green Park raised another vital issue concerning diversity – namely, that companies would recruit people as “diversity window shopping” which describes a company hiring diverse talent in order to outwardly show inclusion but ultimately excludes these people from key decisions.

As such, the research calls for the Green Park rule to be instated, meaning that any spending decision above 1 per cent of turnover must be made by a diverse group. If this is not possible, this should be noted to the board and listed in the company’s annual report.

Trevor Phillips, Chair of Green Park, said:

These figures put some flesh on the bone of last year’s protests. 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. We cannot go back to business as usual.

It is time that shareholders, consumers and employees start questioning whether Black Lives Matter is just rhetoric rather than reality. That is why we have put our backing behind Race Equality Week. Corporate leaders need to stop telling us how much they care and do something to show us that black lives really do matter.

*This research was obtained from Green Park’s ‘Green Park Business Leaders Index 2021’ which is an analysis of the gender and ethnocultural diversity of FTSE leadership.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.