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Boardroom diversity: It’s getting worse, not better

Britain's boardrooms are getting less diverse, according to new research by recruitment consultancy Green Park.

A survey of the U.K.'s top 10,000 executives across the FTSE 100 reveals that the number of those belonging to ethnic minorities in leadership roles has dropped. Nearly two-thirds of all companies have all-white boardrooms in 2015, up from 61 businesses in 2014 to 62 this year.

Excluding non-executive directors, the number of all-white boardrooms increased from 63 in 2014 to 70. The number of chief executives from visible minorities fell as well, but Green Park chalks this up to a number of Africa- and Asia-focused firms dropping out of the FTSE 100.


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Less than 60 of the 100,000 executives surveyed were of East Asian descent, none of which serve as top level executives.

"China, Korea, Indonesia and Japan are some of the biggest and fastest growing markets," Raj Tulsiani, CEO of Green Park Group said in a press release. "So it's astonishing to see from our research that there is not a single Chinese or East Asian heritage executive director within the FTSE 100."

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"We know that this group forms the single most successful educational demographic in the UK, and has done for quite some while, so big companies need to ask themselves, why are they not drawing on this group's talent and insights to help provide a competitive edge in targeting important markets for growth?"

Tulsiani said he was particularly concerned about diversity around the leadership pipeline.

A survey of the top 100 leaders in each FTSE 100 companies shows firms lost approximately 40 of 480 non-white leaders over the past year which may have otherwise been groomed for executive-level positions.

"We've lost such a large number of potential ethnic minority leaders, suggesting that the situation is likely to continue to worsen rather than improve in the future," Tulsiani said.

The report card for women was more upbeat, though, with females making up 26.1 percent of all the top 100 level leaders across the index, up from 23.8 percent a year earlier.

"The numbers do not, however, suggest the kind of surge that will increase the low proportion of women at Operating Board level and above," the survey said.

"Diversity is only of value to business if it genuinely brings people of different outlook, experience and culture to the table - there are few benefits to cosmetic change," Trevor Phillips, Chair of Green Park Diversity Analytics said in the report's press release.

"It's clear that we are going nowhere when it comes to improving social mobility and actually going backwards on ethnic diversity."