Korn Ferry Analysis Highlights the Extent of Underrepresentation of Diverse Board Chairs, Directors and CEOs in the UK Consumer Sector

A new Korn Ferry analysis highlights the lack of diverse Chairs, CEOs and Board Directors in the U.K. consumer industry, across retail, FMCG and hospitality sectors.

Of the 144 listed consumer companies* across the FTSE 100, FTSE 250 and AIM, only 18 CEOs (8.4 percent) are either from an ethnic minority background or female. Of those CEOs, just 11 (all men) are from an ethnic minority background, and only seven of the consumer CEOs are women.

The analysis also looked at Board Chairs and found that consumer companies listed on the FTSE 100 have no ethnic minority Chairs on the board and just one female Chairwoman. FTSE 250 consumer companies have no ethnic minority Chairs on the board and only three female Chairs. Consumer companies on AIM have five female Chairs, four ethnic minority male Chairs and one ethnic minority female Chair.

“The key to increasing female and ethnic representation in Chair and CEO roles and on boards more widely is to recognise the issue and move it up the priority list on the board agenda. The lack of diversity in these positions must be actively addressed in both succession planning and longer-term talent pipelining at all levels of the organisation,” said Sarah Lim, Managing Director and Head of U.K. Consumer, Korn Ferry. “This applies across the spectrum of both large and small cap companies.”

The analysis examined the makeup of the 1,103 Board directors on the 144 UK listed consumer companies. It found that 11.6 percent (29 out of 250) of the FTSE 100, 5.6 percent of the FTSE 250 (18 out of 322) and 6.7 percent (36 out of 531) of the AIM consumer company Board Directors are ethnic minority directors.

The percentage of women Board Directors fared a bit better: 35 percent (90 out of 250) of the FTSE 100, 32.5 percent (105 out of 322) FTSE 250, and 16.9 percent (90 out of 531) of AIM consumer company Board Directors are female.

Of the 31 listed UK retail companies, 16 do not have ethnic minority representation on their boards, and about a third have less than 25 percent female representation on their boards.

“Diversity requires advocacy from the top,” said Lim. “It’s proven that organisations with more diverse leadership perform at a higher level, and given the millions of people that the retail, hospitality and consumer goods industries employ, leaders have to be more reflective of the customer base and the communities they serve.”

* The data analyses CEOs at 131 consumer companies, as 13 of the companies did not have named CEOs and the time of this research.

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with our clients to design optimal organization structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward and motivate their workforce while developing professionals as they navigate and advance their careers.

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