Business

There are no Black execs at the top of Britain's biggest companies

Posted February 3, 2021 5:39 a.m. EST

— The number of Black executives at the very top of the biggest companies on the London Stock Exchange has fallen to zero.

There are no Black CEOs, CFOs or chairs in the FTSE 100 index for the first time in six years, according to a study published on Wednesday by Green Park, an executive recruitment and diversity consultancy agency.

No progress has been made on diversity since Green Park began researching the issue. Only 10 of 297 people in the three top leadership positions do not identify as White, the same proportion as in 2014, the research found.

"The snowy peaks of British business remain stubbornly white," Trevor Phillips, the chair of Green Park, said in a statement. "We know there is no shortage of qualified candidates to fill these roles if companies are willing to look," he added.

UK companies have faced growing pressure to tackle racial injustice in their own ranks in the wake of the killing of George Floyd last June, which sparked Black Lives Matter protests across the United States, Britain and elsewhere. It also saw a string of organizations, including the Bank of England, apologize for historic ties to slavery.

Phillips, who used to lead Britain's Commission for Racial Equality, said that shareholders, consumers and employees needed to "start questioning whether Black Lives Matter is just rhetoric rather than reality."

According to Green Park's research, the percentage of Black executive directors and non-executive directors in the FTSE 100 has slipped to 1.1% from 1.3% in 2014. This compares with increased percentages for Asians and other groups who do not identify as White.

The number of Black people in the leadership pipeline has also fallen over the past year, dimming the prospects for future increases in Black representation at the highest levels of British business. "Corporate leaders need to stop telling us how much they care and do something to show us that black lives really do matter," Phillips added.

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