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2022 UK Spencer Stuart Board Index

2022 Snapshot

 15 %

of board members self-identify as having a minority ethnic background

 71 %

of boards have at least one director identifying as having a minority ethnic background

 83 %

of directors disclosed their ethnic backgrounds

Ethnic diversity

Parker Review targets

In 2017 the Parker Review asked companies to consider how their boardroom’s ethnic representation served to establish meaningful insights and connections with their customers, employees and the communities they served. At the time, the Review noted that 51 constituents of the FTSE 100 did not have a single director from a minority ethnic background. Aiming to increase representation, the Review recommended that FTSE 100 companies should have at least one director from a minority ethnic background on the board by 31 December 2021. FTSE 250 boards were asked to achieve the same target by 2024. The Review also recommended that companies should include a summary of measures under way to increase ethnic diversity at all levels in subsequent annual reports. Those companies failing to comply by the relevant cut-off dates would be expected to include an explanation for this in their annual report.

87of the FTSE 100 companies reported meeting the Parker Review target

87 of the FTSE 100 companies reported meeting the target and 11 companies reported being “non-compliant” at our cut-off date of 30 April 2022. Our survey approach excludes investment trusts, hence two companies were excluded from this analysis: Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust and Pershing Square. For more details of our research methodology, read our survey approach.

50% of FTSE 100 companies reported the number or percentage of minority ethnic directors on the board; 29% merely reported that they were either “compliant” or “non-compliant”. 10% of companies chose to report at a more detailed level and indicated how each director self-identifies.

Out of the 50 FTSE 250 companies in our cohort, 34 reported meeting the target of having at least one minority ethnic director on the board ahead of the 2024 deadline.

Twelve companies appointed new directors who self-identified as having a minority ethnic background after our cut-off date and are compliant with the target on October 2022: 3i, abrdn, B&M European Value Retail, Beazley, Carnival, DS Smith, Endeavour Mining, Entain, Legal & General, M&G, Mondi and Smurfit Kappa.

Ashtead and Dechra Pharmaceuticals stated that they recognised the importance of the Parker Review and declared that they are in the process of finding an additional non-executive director. Five companies did not report their situation or allude to the Parker Review, compared to the 19 that fell into this category last year.

Directors with a minority ethnic background

Directors are described here as “minority ethnic” only if they have self-identified as such.

83% of directors disclosed their backgrounds. Of these, 15% (186) self-identified as having a minority ethnic background. Of the 186, 39% (72) are UK nationals. Among non-British minority ethnic directors, 31% are from the US; the next most common group is from India (9%). 17% of board members in our sample have not self-identified; they are treated as “non-disclosed” and excluded from our analysis.

Financial services experience continues to be the most common industry background (31%) among minority ethnic directors. Of those minority ethnic directors with experience in the financial services industry, the majority come from the banking (40%) and investment (31%) sectors. This year more minority ethnic directors have consumer industry experience (17%), tying with technology, media, and telecommunications (also 17%) as the second most common industry background. This represents a change from last year when non-corporate roles in education, non-profit and government were the second most common background (down from 14% to 9% this year).

Industry experience of board members
All directors Directors with minority ethnic background
Financial Services 29% 31%
Consumer 18% 17%
Technology, media and telecommunications 13% 17%
Industrial 18% 10%
Education, non-profit & government 7% 9%
Business professional services 10% 8%
Healthcare 4% 5%
Others 1% 3%

The most common functional experience among minority ethnic directors is general manager roles (37%), followed by group CEO roles (24%).

Non-executive directors from a minority ethnic background are on average slightly younger than the wider group (58.6 versus 59.9 years old) and 24% of them are sitting on a board for the first-time (compared with 48% of all new NEDs). Minority ethnic directors have a lower average tenure on the board (3.1 years versus the 4.3 average for all NEDs) but hold slightly more concurrent board roles (2.9 years versus 2.6 years).

There are two newly appointed chairs at quoted companies this year who self-identified as having a minority ethnic background: Omid Kordestani at Pearson and Naguib Kheraj at Petershill Partners. With Shriti Vadera at Prudential they are the three minority ethnic directors among board chairs. CEO and CFO roles follow the same upward trend, rising from six (4%) to nine CEOs (6%) and from eight (6%) to 10 CFOs (7%). Laxman Narasimhan left his role as CEO of Reckitt Benckiser in September 2022, after our cut-off date. While there was an increase in the number of minority ethnic chairs, CEOs, and CFOs, the reverse is true for the senior independent director role (SID). In 2022, only three SIDs self-identified as minority ethnic, compared with six in 2021.

In terms of committee leadership, the number of minority ethnic audit committee chairs dropped from three (2%) in 2021 to two (1%) in 2022. The number of remuneration committee chairs who self-identified as minority ethnic increased from three (2%) in 2021 to six (4%) in 2022.

The intersectionality of gender and ethnic diversity

As seen in last year’s cohort, there is a gender balance between the number of minority ethnic women (7.1%, 95) and men (6.8%, 91) sitting on FTSE 150 boards. Women with a minority ethnic background are, on average, younger and have a shorter board tenure than all board members. 

Gender and ethnicity in the boardroom
All board members Female board members Minority ethnic men Minority ethnic women
Average age 61.1 58.5 59.5 56.7
Average tenure on board 4.3 3.6 4.7 2.6
Average # of external commitments 1.6 1.7 1.9 1.9
% of new directors (from total) 13% 45% 10% 15%
% of newly appointed first-time directors (from total) 36% 54% 10% 14%

Gender in the boardroom

Women on boards in 2022

The 2022 UK Spencer Stuart Board Index covers the top 150 companies with a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange, i.e. FTSE 100 companies plus the first 50 of the FTSE 250. Our survey approach excludes investment trusts, hence two companies were excluded from this analysis: Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust and Pershing Square Holdings. For more details of our research methodology, read Our survey approach.

In our sample 46% (69) of companies have reached 40% female representation at the cut-off date. Twenty-six boards (17%) reached gender parity in 2022, an increase on last year’s 15 boards (10%). Boardrooms have on average 3.9 women directors including executives and non-executives. There are no all-male boards.

Women now represent 53% of all non-executive directors

For the second consecutive year there are more women non-executives (53%, 468) than there are men (47%, 407).

Boards have also appointed more women to the role of SID, rising from 38 female SIDs in 2021 to 43 in 2022 — an increase of 13%.

More women than men were appointed as chair this year, with six companies appointing female chairs, raising the total from 14 in 2021 to 20 in 2022, a 42% increase. By contrast, only five male chairs were appointed. The new female chairs are at Dechra Pharmaceuticals, Halma, National Grid, Rolls-Royce Holdings, Schroders, and Weir Group. Five of the six women are chairing a FTSE 350 board for the first time, although each of them has had an extensive portfolio career.

The total number of female CEOs in the top 150 FTSE companies is now 16, up from 13 last year. This is due to a change in constituent companies, not new CEO appointments. The three new companies led by female CEOs are companies that are new to our sample this year. Darktrace’s Poppy Gustafsson was appointed in April 2021 having progressed internally since 2016 when she joined the company as co-CEO for the EMEA region. Greggs’ Roisin Currie was appointed CEO in February 2022 after a 12-year career with the company, having started as group people director. Linda Cook has led Harbour Energy since July 2014, although the company only went public in 2021. Kath Smith, interim CEO at JD Sports Fashion, was appointed after our cut-off date.

There was a slight increase in the number of female CFOs, from 22 in 2021 to 25 in 2022. Four companies new to our sample have female CFOs: Beazley, Darktrace, NinetyOne, and OSB. AstraZeneca, Diageo, Hargreaves Lansdown, Land Securities Group, and Smith Group appointed women to the role this year.

No board member has self-identified as non-binary.

Women in leadership roles

New targets were proposed in 2022 by the FTSE Women Leaders Review and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to advance women’s representation on boards. Both recommend that at least one of the four senior board positions (chair, CEO, SID or CFO), should be held by a woman.

At our cut-off date, 77 out of the top 150 FTSE companies (51%) have at least one woman in the chair, CEO, SID, or CFO role. No board has appointed women to all four of these leadership roles, compared with 73 boards where men occupy all four roles. 

Admiral Group and Hargreaves Lansdown have women in three of the four listed positions. At Admiral Group, Annette Court has chaired the board since 2017, Milena Mondini de Focatiis became CEO in 2021 after a 15-year career at the company, and Justine Roberts has been the interim SID since February 2022. At Hargreaves Lansdown, Deanna Oppenheimer has been chair since 2018, Penny James has been SID since last year, and Amy Stirling joined as CFO in February this year.

Female representation by role

Foreign directors

We define foreign directors as having a nationality that differs from that of the company.

Foreign directors account for 35% (526) of all board members, a proportion that has not changed significantly since 2011. The same stability is also evident in the proportion of directors’ nationalities when broken down by roles: 21% of chairs are foreign (the same as in 2021) and 32% of CEOs are foreign, compared with 31% in 2021.

Origin of board directors

There is a modest change in the nationality composition of board members compared to last year when nationals of European countries (excluding the UK) and the Americas tied at 15% (of which US nationals accounted for 12%).

Boardroom diversity – top 5 companies in the FTSE 150

Most women
  1. Diageo (60%, 6) and Games Workshop Group (60%, 3)
  2. 3i Group, Auto Trader Group, Centrica and Land Securities Group (55.6%, 5)
  3. Admiral Group and Schroders (54.5%, 6)
  4. Abrdn, Shell, SSE and Unilever (50%, 6); Croda, Halma, Hargreaves Lansdown, Pearson, Smiths Group, Vodafone and Man Group (50%, 5); Greggs, Kingfisher, Rightmove and Ninety One (50%, 4); Softcat (50%, 3)
  5. Aviva, London Stock Exchange Group and National Grid (46%, 6).
Most non-nationals
  1. Wizz Air Holdings (90%, 9)
  2. Flutter Entertainment and Coca-Cola HBC (85%, 11)
  3. Anglo American (82%, 9)
  4. BP and Endeavour Mining (80%, 8)
  5. Investec (78%, 11)
Most directors who self-declared as with minority ethnic background
  1. Unilever (41%, 5)
  2. Diageo (40%, 4)
  3. Rightmove (37%, 3)
  4. Prudential (35%, 5)
  5. Hikma Pharmaceuticals (33%, 3)
Most directors under 50
  1. Auto Trader Group and Darktrace (44%, 4)
  2. Future and Softcat (33%, 2)
  3. Tesco (31%, 4)
  4. Big Yellow Group (30%, 3)
  5. Diploma, Frasers Group, JD Sports Fashion and Taylor Wimpey (29%, 2)