Fighting for Black Lives Matter in rural Britain
London (CNN Business)The number of Black executives at the very top of the biggest companies on the London Stock Exchange has fallen to zero.
There are no Black CEOs, CFOs or chairs in the FTSE 100 (UKX) index for the first time in six years, according to a study published on Wednesday by Green Park, an executive recruitment and diversity consultancy agency.
No progress has been made on diversity since Green Park began researching the issue. Only 10 of 297 people in the three top leadership positions do not identify as White, the same proportion as in 2014, the research found.
“The snowy peaks of British business remain stubbornly white,” Trevor Phillips, the chair of Green Park, said in a statement. “We know there is no shortage of qualified candidates to fill these roles if companies are willing to look,” he added.
UK companies have faced growing pressure to tackle racial injustice in their own ranks in the wake of the killing of George Floyd last June, which sparked Black Lives Matter protests across the United States, Britain and elsewhere. It also saw a string of organizations, including the Bank of England, apologize for historic ties to slavery.
Phillips, who used to lead Britain’s Commission for Racial Equality, said that shareholders, consumers and employees needed to “start questioning whether Black Lives Matter is just rhetoric rather than reality.”
According to Green Park’s research, the percentage of Black executive directors and non-executive directors in the FTSE 100 has slipped to 1.1% from 1.3% in 2014. This compares with increased percentages for Asians and other groups who do not identify as White.
The number of Black people in the leadership pipeline has also fallen over the past year, dimming the prospects for future increases in Black representation at the highest levels of British business. “Corporate leaders need to stop telling us how much they care and do something to show us that black lives really do matter,” Phillips added.
The FTSE 100 is made up of the 100 most valuable companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. The index is dominated by UK firms, but it also includes a handful of companies based outside the country. US cruise ship operator Carnival (CUK), which is led by Arnold Donald, exited the FTSE 100 in June following a reweighting of the index, which meant it lost its only Black CEO.
In the United States, there are now just three Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies after Tapestry’s Jide Zeitlin resigned in July.
Ethnicity pay gaps
Low numbers of Black people in senior leadership positions at UK companies is an important factor behind pay disparity.
For example, Lloyds Bank (LLDTF) revealed in December that the median pay gap between Black employees and their peers is 19.7%, while the median bonus gap is 37.6%. The company said that this was driven by lower representation of Black people at senior grades.
Lloyds, Britain’s biggest retail banking group, is the only UK lender to break out pay gap data for Black employees. Barclays (BCS) and NatWest have previously published combined data for Asian, Black and other workers who do not identify as White.
While many UK banks have signed Business In The Community’s Race at Work Charter, which obliges companies to collect and publish data on staff diversity and pay, a Reuters review published on Wednesday found that eight of the 14 top banks had not yet published any ethnic diversity data as of December 2020.
Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and Bank of America, which have signed the charter, all said they collected diversity data, but declined to disclose it, according to Reuters.
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