Women and ethnic minorities continue to be sidelined in top UK firms, reveals new index

In Britain’s biggest companies ethnic minorities and women are in functions that won't take them to the top

Diversity and inclusion-focused consultancy Green Park has released a new report that revealed that women and ethnic minorities remain shut out from the highest leadership roles at top UK firms.

The annual report entitled “The Green Park Business Leaders Index 2021” shows that the UK’s top firms may be improving boardroom diversity. Yet, women and ethnic minorities remain sidelined from the most influential roles. The report read: “Despite some progress on diversity, in the upper echelons of Britain’s top companies, ethnic minorities and females are still being shunted into functions which are far less likely routes into the top tier of leadership than those travelled by their white, male counterparts.”

While most research of corporate CEO backgrounds shows a preference for executives with experience in finance, sales, and operations, Green Park’s findings reveal that Britain’s female and ethnic minority business leaders “remain largely concentrated to functions such as HR and Diversity and Marketing & Communications which are less likely to lead to C-Suite roles.” In contrast, white males are more likely to dominate Digital, Data & Technology (76%), Governance & Operations (73%) Commercial & procurement (71%), and Finance (69%) functions – which are all much more direct routes to the top.

This means that while there’s more diversity in the FTSE 100, inclusion is still lacking if there aren’t clear pathways to the top leadership roles for underrepresented groups.

Lord Karan Bilimoria, Chair & Founder, Change the Race Ratio, Chair & Founder and President, Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said: “We must transform words and promises into action and results. We, as business leaders, must do more to improve the diversity of our boards and leadership teams.

“What I hear from my conversations with Chairs and CEOs is a clear desire to make progress and an openness to embracing new thinking that’s needed to deliver change. I welcome the recommendations set out in this report, and I encourage business leaders to adopt them. We must all do better in listening to colleagues from underrepresented groups and challenge behaviours that create barriers for talent to progress.”

To download the full report released today, click here.

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