8.3% (122) of all board directors are identified as black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME), maintaining a gradual upward trend since we started tracking ethnic diversity in 2016 (5%). However, while the proportion of BAME non-executives has increased to 9.6% (104), it has halved among executive directors in the past four years (from 5.1% in 2016 to 2.6% in 2020).
Fewer than one-third of all BAME directors are UK nationals and 78% have a tenure of three years or less.
14.3% (24) of new non-executives are BAME, compared with 7.7% in 2016. Of these, 46% (11) are women and 71% (17) are non-nationals (primarily from North America, South Africa and India).
One company has a BAME remuneration committee chair, one has a BAME audit committee chair and two have a BAME nomination committee chair.
Seven CEOs are identified as BAME. All of these are men and two are non-UK nationals.
Despite growing calls for greater BAME representation on boards, this year’s figures suggest mixed progress on ethnic diversity in the UK. Despite perceptions in the UK that the issue of racial injustice is one predominantly emanating from across the Atlantic, UK companies trail their US counterparts when it comes to ethnic diversity in the boardroom. The 2020 US Spencer Stuart Board Index shows that minority directors represent 20% of all directors at the top 200 S&P 500 companies, with 10% of companies led by minority CEOs, compared with a figure of 4.5% in the UK.
Spencer Stuart has signed up to Change the Race Ratio — a campaign launched in October 2020 to increase racial and ethnic participation in British businesses.
The steady progression towards gender diversity continues with women now occupying 34% (496) of board roles in the top 150 companies (vs 30% in 2019). Among non-executives, 46% (444) are women; by contrast, just 13% of executive directors are women (42 out of 342). 54% (23) of these are CFOs and 19% (8) are CEOs.
Ninety-two companies in our sample (62%) had reached the Hampton-Alexander Review target of 33% women on the board by our cut-off date, a significant increase from 42% in 2019. That still leaves 58 companies (38%) falling short of the target. Antofagasta, Bunzl, Primary Health Properties and Network International Holdings have fewer than 20% women on their boards.
Ten boards achieved gender parity at our cut-off date, compared with just three in 2019. Rightmove, Games Workshop Group, Rentokil Initial, Auto Trader Group, Softcat, Assura, CRH, M&G, Severn Trent had boards comprising 50% women — 56% in the case of Taylor Wimpey.
Severn Trent is the only company to have a female chair and female CEO. Croda International, Hargreaves Lansdown and Imperial Brands have women in both chair and SID roles. There were eight female CEOs at our cut-off date, compared with five in 2019. The new female CEOs are at Direct Line Insurance Group, RBS and Trainline (a new FTSE 150 constituent).
Among executive directors, 13% are women — that is, 42 out of 342 executive directors on the boards of the top 150 companies. This is a 13% increase over 2019. 54% (23) of female executive directors are CFOs and 19% (8) are CEOs.
33% (14) of female executive directors have a non-executive role elsewhere, compared with 24% (72) of male executives.
Women in board roles, 2010–2020
We define foreign directors as having a nationality that differs from that of the company. On this basis, foreign directors account for 30% (471) of all board members.
79% (119) of FTSE 150 boards have at least one foreign board member, compared with 84% in 2019.
As in 2019, five company boards have more than 80% foreign directors (Polymetal International, Network International Holdings, IWG, Coca-Cola HBC and Hikma Pharmaceuticals).
63% (929) of board members are UK nationals and 4% (61) have dual nationality.
19% (30) of boards have foreign chairs and 30% (45) have foreign CEOs
Origin of non-UK nationals — all directors
Breadth of diversity in the boardroom
While boardroom diversity cannot be captured exclusively by quantitative measures, there are hallmark indicators that can be used to highlight boardrooms where the greatest diversity is evident. The table below year shows the most diverse boards in terms of gender, nationality, ethnicity and age.
Ten companies have now reached parity between men and women in the boardroom. In 2019 there were just three.