There’s more to diversity than colour

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Recruitment firm Green Park revealed that, for the first time in six years, there were no black executives in any of the top three roles across the FTSE 100, reports Oliver Shah. And although the number of female and non-white directors is climbing, it’s important to recognise the roots of the problem relate not just to ethnicity or gender but also to class and social mobility, which are harder to define.

The core of non-diverse groups is the homogeneity of thought, not appearance. Big company boards are still fairly old-fashioned, and the rarefied air of Mayfair or the City is friendlier to the rich man than to the working-class man or woman of any colour. In 2019, 34% of FTSE chairs were privately educated. There are subtler forces at work from the start.

For instance, top firms tend to recruit from the best universities, which creates a filtering effect. Gruelling interview processes emphasise skills such as leadership and public speaking, which favour people from certain backgrounds. Charities are trying to redress the balance.

Ultimately, businesses will only take action when they realise their commercial interests are best served by employing more people who think like their customers.


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