Ethnic diversity in Britain’s leadership fails to improve over past three years. Just 52 out of 1099 of the most powerful jobs in the country held by ethnic minority individuals.

Despite public commitments from government, public bodies and businesses to increase diversity at leadership levels, progress has stalled over the last three years, according to the latest research from executive search and diversity consultancy Green Park. This new work updates research conducted in 2017.

A visual depiction of the diversity composition of Britain’s most powerful decision makers across the public and private sectors, The Colour of Power 2020, reveals that just 52 out of the 1099 most powerful roles in the country are filled by non-white individuals, or 4.7% of the total number compared to the 13% proportion of the UK population.  The 2020 figures represent a gain of only 1.2% or 15 additional ethnic minority held roles since the Colour of Power 2017 index.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was responsible for a third of this increase, through his appointment of ten ethnic minority Government ministers*.  The number of ethnic minority ministers has doubled between 2017 and 2020.

The research covers the top roles across 39 categories including central and local government, public bodies, the private sector, education, sport and charities. Fifteen of these categories had no ethnic minority representation at all at their top levels in 2020; five categories have seen a decrease in BAME individuals over the past three years and more than half the categories (21) have seen no change.

As organisations across Britain and the world declare their commitment to improving equality and diversity, in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement, the research reveals that Black individuals are particularly under-represented with just 17 of the 1099 roles held by Black men and women – amounting to 1.5% compared to the national population figure of 3.6%.

Inequality in outcomes for BAME individuals across health, justice and education have been highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the Black Lives Matter movement. Green Park’s research reveals a virtually complete absence of BAME individuals in leadership roles in these categories – which could point to a lack of understanding of the issues faced by ethnic minorities.

There are no BAME Chief Constables and just one Police and Crime Commissioner; no CEOs and just three Chairs of the Top 50 NHS Trusts; no Permanent Secretaries in the Civil Service Board;  no Supreme Court Judges; only one out of 31 Trade Union leaders; no CEO at the 15 national sports governing bodies; and only five out of 50 Vice-Chancellors at the top 50 universities.

Business faces a similar problem at a leadership level, with only two BAME FTSE100 CEOs, only 1 Advertising Agency CEO, no CEOs of the top UK financial institutions, only 6 CEOs or Managing Partners at the UK’s top 61 law, accountancy and consultancy firms.

Raj Tulsiani, CEO of Green Park said:

“If ever there was a need for open and carefully curated conversations about the UK’s relationship with race and power, the time is now. Our report graphically illustrates the lack of ethnic minority representation in the upper echelons of the UK’s most powerful institutions which directly or indirectly impact the everyday lives of our multi-cultural population.”

“The Colour of Power 2020 demonstrates not only the disparity of power in the UK’s highest echelons, but also the total failure to address it despite three years of government-backed targets and ample institutional rhetoric about commitments to diversity and inclusion.”

“Those in entrenched positions of power clearly need access to new perspectives. We need to let go of the myth of an achieved meritocracy and reform our working practices so that they are inclusive from start to finish. And we need to remember that inviting people into decision-making processes is an antidote to a lack of will to change but does not in itself provide the additional skills needed to address groupthink – which will be vital to helping the economy recover and thrive post Covid-19.”

Green Park calculates that based on a 12% annual turnover rate – a total of 395 positions would have new occupants since 2017. Even accounting for the fact that some individuals would have moved roles over the period, but stayed on the list, Green Park estimates that of 190 new names on the list, just 20 (10.5%) will be from minority backgrounds. At this rate of progress, representation amongst Britain’s top leaders will not reach the 13% representation in the current working population until at least 2044 – by which time the population will be more than 20% minority.

Green Park is proposing that public and private sector organisations should instigate a commitment to no major strategic decisions – for example major appointments or acquisitions in the private sector, and policy or legislative proposals in the public sector – being taken by a leadership team which is all male or all-white. In the event that decision making is made by a male grouping or an all-white group, the fact should always be minuted and noted in their annual report.

Trevor Phillips, Chair of Green Park, added: “The fact that one person – the Prime Minister – is responsible for a third of the increase in ethnic minority individuals on the Colour of Power list, reveals that if there is a will to make a difference, then change is achievable. Boards across the public and private sectors must take a lead from the Prime Minister and act now rather than make promises for later.”


  • Out of 1099 roles, only 52 (4. 7%) are ethnic minorities. This is a 1. 2 percentile point increase in three years (15 people).
  • Of the 39 departments categorized, 15 (38.5%) had no ethnic minority representation.
  • Ethnic minority females account for only 11 roles out of 1099 (1%). Out of these only 3 are black females (0.3%).
  • A total of just 16 roles are held by black males and females accounting for 1.5% of the total roles.
  • 5 out of 39 categories have seen a reduction in ethnic minority held roles. CEO’s of Media Agencies have seen the biggest loss, going from 2 ethnic minority members out of 10 (20%) to 0.
  • CEOs of NHS Trusts, Leaders of Unitary Authority Councils, CEOs of Public Bodies, and CEOs of Top Charities have also all seen a reduction in ethnic minority representation with the loss of 1 member each.
  • 21 out of 39 categories (54%) have seen no change in the number of ethnic minority members.
  • Both CEO’s of London Borough Councils and Government Ministers have increased their ethnic minority members by 3.
  • Out of 1099 roles, only 288 (26.2%) are female. This is only a 3.6 percentile point increase in three years (49 people).
  • Of the 39 departments categorised, 2 (5%) had no female representation.


See the full index at:

Edit: On 28.07.20, 13:00 the data was updated to include the CEO’s London Boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Royal Borough of Greenwich. While this has not altered the overall findings and key messages of the report, it has marginally altered some statistics which may cause discrepancies with data published by third parties in the 22 hours prior to the amends. 

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