Labour pledges new diversity quotas in all-white FTSE boards

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said if Labour was elected it would consider “prescriptive measures” to tackle lack of diversity in the City

Labour could introduce quotas for women and ethnic minorities on company boards after a study revealed the UK's top firms are still suffering from a “diversity deficit”.

Analysis of 10,000 FTSE 100 executives found that a "glass ceiling" is still in place, with only a dozen of the 289 top posts of chief executive, chairman or chief financial officer held by women, and just ten by ethnic minorities.

More than half of the top stock market-listed companies have no non-white "leaders" on the board and two-thirds have no full-time executives from minority groups at board level, according to the study for executive recruitment consultancy Green Park.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said the research showed an "undeniable and unacceptable" situation and warned a future Labour Government could, if elected, consider introducing boardroom quotas.

Mr Umunna said: "The continued existence of a glass ceiling for women and ethnic minorities in our boardrooms is undeniable and unacceptable.

"Whilst advances on non-executive appointments in recent years have been welcome, progress on executive positions has been lamentable.

"It is clear there is a pipeline of women and ethnic minority candidates, achieving the highest qualifications, who are available for the top jobs and merit appointment, but not nearly enough of them make it through.

"If we do not see enough progress on increasing diversity in our boardrooms, we could consider introducing more prescriptive measures, such as quotas, in a future Labour government."

There are currently just four female chief executives of FTSE 100 companies - Moya Green at Royal Mail, Carolyn McCall at easyJet, Alison Cooper at Imperial Tobacco and Angela Ahrendts at Burberry. Liv Garfield is set to join their ranks later this year as boss of Severn Trent, while Ahrendts will depart to take up a position at Apple.

Former Equality and Human Rights Commission chairman Trevor Phillips, who carried out the study with King's College London academic Professor Richard Webber, said: "In the past decade there has been a growing consensus that our business elite is simply too narrow in its outlook, too prone to a herd mentality and just not switched on enough to the 21st century world.

"As China grows to be the largest consumer market in the world; and as the United States becomes a majority-minority society the fact that two thirds of our biggest companies have all white executive teams - and apparently not one person of Chinese descent - should set off a big red flashing light that we aren't equipping ourselves to compete in these markets.

"And as women become more important consumers domestically, it's self-defeating that they remain junior partners at the top of our economy.

"The fact is that if we're going to earn our way out of the recession, we just can't afford to be saddled with a diversity deficit this big."

The Green Park Leadership 10,000 used computer software to analyse the backgrounds of Britain's most top business executives, including gender and ethno-cultural composition, looking at 15 business sectors.

It found that sectors which had a good gender balance - like utilities - had less ethnic balance and visa versa.

Women and minority leaders feature "disproportionately" as non-executive board directors, which the report claims gives them less influence than their overall numbers suggest.

The research claims women occupy about one in four of the so-called Top 100 positions across FTSE 100 companies - leaders of minority origin account for just under one in seventeen.

Additional reporting agencies

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

Guru Careers: Executive Assistant / PA

£30 - 35k + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Executive Assist...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable