Targets alone are not enough to improve board diversity, claims a diversity consultancy.
The Clear Company has highlighted the need to also address unconscious biases throughout the recruitment process and work on strategies to retain diverse talent.
The news comes after the release of the Parker Review, which suggested that FTSE boardrooms ‘do not reflect the ethnic diversity of the UK’. The report found that of the 1,087 director positions in the FTSE 100, directors of colour hold only eight per cent of positions.
The report also revealed that of these directors of colour, only 1.5 per cent were UK citizens, despite the fact that 14 per cent of the total UK population is from a non-white ethnic group.
The Clear Company has voiced their support for the Parker Review’s recommendation that all FTSE 100 companies should have at least one board member from an ethnic minority by 2021. However, the company also note that if companies fail to implement cultural change and educate existing board members these targets are unlikely to achieve their aim.
Speaking about the report, Kate Headley, Director of The Clear Company said, “The recommendations outlined in the Parker Review are a positive reflection of the growing understanding of the importance of having a diverse and inclusive board.”
“However, targets alone are not enough to improve diversity, companies need to foster tangible cultural change.”
“The competence to hire fairly and inclusively is even more of an issue at senior levels, where traditional headhunting networks, unwritten rules and unconscious, yet exclusive, ‘clubs’ continue to influence executive and non-executive hiring.”
“Inclusion for the reasons cited in this interim report should aim to raise the bar for hiring in the boardroom, leaving ability to perform the role as the only selection criteria.”
“Targets without competence and transparency can create a culture of tokenism and can shape detrimental hiring practices.”
“Indeed, our audit team recently discovered worrying comments such as “if there are not sufficient women of the right calibre we will select the next best ‘other’ gender candidate.”