FTSE 350 Firms Continue to Lag on Black Boardroom Hires

U.K. executives who rushed to promise more diverse staffs after Black Lives Matter protests last year have been slow to put it into practice in their own boardrooms.

Just 3% of board directors appointed to companies in the FTSE 350 stocks index last year were Black, according to a report by executive recruiter Heidrick & Struggles. That compares with 3.3% of the U.K.’s population, and more than one in eight people in London.

“We expect to see an increasing focus on adding directors of Black and Asian descent,” the report said. “We believe it’s crucial that boards not trade off one form of diversity for another, and instead ensure that there’s room in the room for everyone.”

Protests following the murder of George Floyd by police last year put pressure on company executives to add more Black directors as part of a broader focus on racial disparities in the workforce and executive ranks. There were no Black chairs, chief executive officers or chief financial officers at any company in the U.K.’s benchmark FTSE 100 index earlier this year, research published by consultancy Green Park found.

Executives did better on gender. Women appointees made up 51% of new FTSE 350 boardroom directors last year, in line with 2019, as historical gender imbalances at executive levels erode, the Heidrick & Struggles report said.

However, women who lack boardroom experience are still struggling to be appointed directors. Most appointees were retired executives or had previous experience, they found.

“The world has changed massively in recent times, and boards must change along with it or they will end up losing out in the long run,” Alice Breeden, a partner at the consultancy, said in a statement.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.