Just this week The Parker Review Committee released an update report titled ‘Improving the Ethnic Diversity of UK Boards’. Referring to itself as a ‘landmark’ in the journey of ethnically diverse representation in the boardroom, the findings have been welcomed by many.


Established in 2017, The Parker Review has annually measured the diversity of corporate Britain, as a reaction to ongoing complaints of the structural under-representation of ethnically diverse board members. Seen as a “wake-up” for the biggest and most influential organisations to be accountable for more inclusive change, the Review has set staggered targets for the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250, and this year the FTSE 350 too.


What has been achieved as of 2023?


The updated Parker Review praised the British corporate community for making good headway in the past year and “significant changes” to ethnically diverse boardroom representation. The key findings were as followed:

  • 96% of FTSE 100 companies had at least one director from an ethnically diverse background on their board. 49% of these 96 businesses had more than one ethnically diverse director on their board.
  • 67% of the FTSE 250 firms  (149 companies) now have at least one ethnically diverse director on their board, which had risen from 55% last year.


It is clear that there has been a break-through in terms of representational change for ethnically diverse talent within some of the largest and most influential organisations in Britain.


More and more people are appreciating the value that representation has on the culture of an organisation, as well as its capital success. Sir John Parker- chair of the Parker Review Committee- reflected on such value in the report: 


“The longer I have served on corporate boards the more convinced I am of the value of bringing into our Boardrooms the best talent and, without a doubt, that includes talent reflecting gender and ethnic diversity. It is through such inherent talent, the quality of experience and the richness of diverse views, that we can establish modern and inclusive cultures and winning competitive strategies.”


There is no denying that representation of ethnically diverse talent is important in the workplace. But, equality and racial equality go beyond this measure. For true racial equality, a culture change is necessitated.


How can we measure an organisation’s approach to race and equality beyond board-member representation? 


Race Equality Matters believes that an organisation can promote and ensure racial equality from the very top- through representation in leadership- but also through embedding it within the very culture. Whilst ‘people’ targets, visibility and leadership are crucial to this journey, so too are the people at all stages of the organisation and the behaviours of all. 


A culture shift cannot happen overnight. A culture shift is everyone’s business.


So, whilst representation is one of many measures to assess an organisation’s approach, the report was a reminder that there is still more progress to be done:


  • None of the top positions in these companies are held by ethnically diverse members, though 6 ethnically diverse executives sit as Chair of the business and 9 occupy the title of Chief Financial Officer.
  • There is significantly greater representation of Asian executive board members in these figures than there are individuals from the Black community.
  • Some of the FTSE 100 companies continue to have an all-white board, including the F&C Investment Trust, Unite Group, FrasersGroup and HomeServe.


MP Kwasi Kwarteng has reflected on the momentum created by the Parker Review, as well as the journey that has only just begun:


“Never has there been a more compelling evidence base for the value of building diversity into business, all the way up to the Boardroom…We must now continue to build this momentum. By maintaining our focus on building fully inclusive workplaces, diversity will maintain its rightful place as a key prong of our industrial strategy.”


Race Equality Matters welcomes the changes made visible by The Parker Review. 


Yet, more still needs to be done in the drive to tackling race inequality in the workplace. 


Representation can only create change at a superficial level. To create sustainable and felt change, a whole organisational culture shift is required.


This is where resource and investment also needs to be committed 


How can you create a cultural change in your organisation? 


How can you ensure everyone included in your organisation FEELS included too?


Join the Race Equality Matters community today and make race in your workplace everyone’s business.

Our next event focuses on KPI’s and targets, active allyship and making addressing race equality everyone business. Maybe it could be a start for some https://www.raceequalitymatters.com/race-network-leaders-and-future-leads/

Photo by Benjamin Child on Unsplash

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