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2023 UK Spencer Stuart Board Index

2023 Snapshot

 13 %

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

 42 %

of minority ethnic directors are UK nationals

 90 %

of boards in the top 150 FTSE companies have at least one director identifying as having a minority ethnic background

Ethnic diversity

Parker Review targets

In 2017, the Parker Review noted that 51 constituents of the FTSE 100 did not have a single director from a minority ethnic background. A target was set for every FTSE 100 company to have at least one board director from a minority ethnic background by 31 December 2021. At our 30 April 2023 cut-off date, there were just six “non-compliant” FTSE 100 companies (including three investment trusts excluded from our analysis).

76% (representing 71 boards out of 94) of FTSE 100 companies reported either the number or percentage of minority ethnic directors on the board; 6% (six out of 94) merely reported that they were either “compliant” or “non-compliant”. 18% (17 out of 94) of companies chose to report at a more detailed level and indicated how each director self-identifies.

The Parker review asked FTSE 250 boards achieve the same target by 2024. Of the 53 FTSE 250 companies in our cohort, 41 reported meeting the target of at least one minority ethnic director on the board ahead of the 2024 deadline.

Directors with a minority ethnic background

13% of all directors (196 out of 1,526) self-identify as having a minority ethnic background. This compares with 12% in 2022 (186/1,495).

Directors are described here as “minority ethnic” only if they have self-identified as such. 84% of directors disclosed their backgrounds. Of these, 15% (196/1,285) self-identified as having a minority ethnic background. Of the 196 with a minority ethnic background, 42% (83) are UK nationals. Among non-UK minority ethnic directors, 40% (45) are from the US; the next most commonly represented country is India (11%, 12).

Minority ethnic directors are most likely to be current or former CEOs or general managers (31% each).

16% (241) of board members in our sample have not self-identified; they are treated as “non-disclosed” and excluded from our analysis.

Industry experience of board members
All directors Directors with minority ethnic background
Financial Services 33% 39%
Consumer 20% 14%
Technology, media and telecommunications 11% 15%
Industrial 22% 14%
Education, non-profit & government 4% 6%
Business professional services 3% 3%
Healthcare 5% 6%
Other 2% 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).

The intersectionality of gender and ethnic diversity

The proportion of minority ethnic women and men sitting on FTSE 150 boards is evenly balanced (8% and 7% respectively). Women with a minority ethnic background are, on average, younger and have a shorter board tenure.

Gender and ethnicity in the boardroom
All board members Female board members Minority ethnic women Male board members Minority ethnic men
Average age 60 58.9 56.6 60.8 60.2
Average tenure on board 4.7 3.6 2.9 5.4 4.6
Average # of external commitments 1.8 2.1 2.2 1.6 1.9
% of new directors (from total) 15% 46% 8% 54% 5%
% of newly appointed first-time directors (from total) 4% 46% 9% 54% 5%

Gender in the boardroom

In the past five years, the proportion of all board seats held by women has grown steadily from 28% to 40%. While gender balance among non-executives is good (46% are women) this is not the case for executive directors — only 16% are women.

  • 53% of companies reached the 40% target for women on boards at our cut-off date, up from 46% (69) in 2022.
  • 18 boards achieved gender parity in 2023, down from 26 in 2022.
  • 73 boards comprise at least 50% female non-executives.

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

Women in senior board and leadership roles


of new board leadership appointments went to women


of the four senior board roles are held by women


women were appointed to the chair role, compared with 18 men

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 by the end of 2025 all FTSE 350 companies should have at least one woman among the four senior board positions of chair, senior independent director, CEO, and CFO.

At our cut-off date, 90 (60%) of the top 150 FTSE companies had at least one woman in one of these four roles, up from 77 (51%) in 2022. No board has appointed women to all four of these leadership roles. By contrast, there are still 60 boards where men occupy all four roles. It is interesting to note that 52 SIDs (35%) are women, the highest number on record.


companies have three women in the top four senior leadership positions, Croda (chair, SID, CFO) and Hargreaves Lansdown (chair, SID, CFO)


companies have two women in the top four senior leadership positions, compared with 26 in 2022.

Admiral (SID, CEO) *
Aviva (CEO, CFO)
Beazley (SID, CFO)
Darktrace (CEO, CFO) **
Diageo (SID, CFO)
Dunelm (chair, CFO)
Entain (SID, CEO)
Greggs (SID, CEO)
Imperial Brands (chair, SID)
Land Securities (chair, SID)
Mediclinic (chair, SID)
National Grid (chair, SID)
NatWest (CEO, CFO)
Pennon (chair, CEO)
Rightmove (SID, CFO)
Severn Trent (chair, CEO)
Shell (SID, CFO)
United Utilities (SID, CEO)
Vodafone (SID, CEO/CFO)

* Mike Rogers replaced Annette Court as chair three days before our cut-off date
** Darktrace had no female non-executives at our cut-off date, appointing Elaine Bucknor in June 2023

2023: Women appointed to top four senior leadership positions (%)
% of total 15% 35% 12% 19%
% of newly appointed 18% 59% 16% 32%
2022: Women appointed to top four senior leadership positions (%)
2022 Chair SID CEO CFO
% of total 13% 32% 11% 19%
% of newly appointed 54% 40% 13% 27%
Female representation by role
Our perspective — Women in board leadership positions

60% of companies now meeting the target set by the FTSE Women Leaders Review and the Financial Conduct Authority for at least one woman in the roles of chair, senior independent director (SID), CEO or CFO. Nevertheless, it remains the case that less than 20% of chairs, CEOs and CFOs in our sample are women, whereas 34% of senior independent directors are women.

The tendency towards proven chairs means more chairs are at the helm of two plcs (most of these are men). Despite the fact that only four women were among the 22 chairs appointed in the past year, we do expect the pipeline of potential chairs to grow as more and more women accumulate significant experience as plc non-executive directors and SIDs. Today, however, women with experience of chairing listed company boards remain relatively few and far between and those in high demand are waiting for the right chair opportunity to come along before making a commitment.

While the FCA targets do not take account of committee chairs, it is worth noting that more than two-thirds of remuneration and sustainability committee chairs are women.

Foreign directors

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

Foreign directors account for 35% of all board members (529 out of 1,526), a proportion that has not changed significantly since 2011. In 2023, 18% of chairs are foreign (21% in 2022 and 2021) and 35% of CEOs are foreign (32% in 2022).

Origin of board directors

Boardroom diversity — top 5 companies in the FTSE 150

Most women
  1. Diageo (64%, 7)
  2. Severn Trent (60%, 6)
  3. WH Smith (57%, 4)
  4. Auto Trader (56%, 5), Greggs (56%, 5) and Pennon (56%, 5)
  5. Marks & Spencer (55%, 6) and Schroders (55%, 6)
Most non-nationals
  1. Glencore (100%, 9)
  2. Wizz Air (90%, 9)
  3. Network International (89%, 8)
  4. Coca-Cola HBC (85%, 11) and Flutter Entertainment (85%,11)
  5. Anglo American (80%, 8)
Most directors who self-declared as with minority ethnic background
  1. Airtel Africa (62%, 8)
  2. Network International (56%, 5)
  3. Prudential (46%, 6)
  4. Diageo (45%, 5)
  5. Endeavour Mining (44%, 4)
Most directors under 50
  1. Auto Trader (44%, 4)
  2. Big Yellow (38%, 3)
  3. Centrica (33%, 3), Darktrace (33%, 3),
    J Sainsbury (33%, 3), Frasers (33%, 2), Softcat (33%, 2)
  4. Tesco (25%, 3), B&M European Value Retail (25%, 2)
  5. Drax (22%, 2), Barratt Developments (22%, 2), Pennon (22%, 2), Endeavour Mining (22%, 2), Taylor Wimpey (22%, 2), Unite (22%, 2)