Green Park Business Leaders Index 2021 (link)  


A review of the gender and ethno-cultural diversity composition of UK’s most senior leadership 


“One of the most significant findings from our 2020 survey was that for the first time since we began our analysis in 2014, at the UK’s largest companies there are no Black Chairs, CEOs or CFOs.” 


“Executive Director roles are lagging behind and have failed to increase Black executive leadership, which remains at 0.6%, unchanged over eight years.” 


“… we find that ethnic minority and female leaders are being sidelined in Non-Executive Director roles or functions that hold less influence and are less likely to lead to a C-Suite promotion.” 


“… where change is happening, it is often within the corporate sidelines – roles and functions which are far less likely routes into the top tier of leadership than those travelled by their white, male counterparts.” 


Top 20 Executives and Non-Executives (Board and Executive Committee) 


While representation across all ethnic minority groups in the Top 20 marginally increased, Black leaders remain the least represented overall (1.6%), only a 0.3% rise since 2014.  Amongst executive directors (as opposed to NEDs), the Black ethno-cultural group has made the smallest gain at 0.1% and remains the least represented group at 0.6%. 





Top 40 Executives (Senior leaders who report to the Board and Executive Committee) 


The ‘Top 40’ “represents the internal pipeline of tomorrow’s senior executive and non-executive leaders.”  Ethnic minority representation in the Top 40 has fallen backwards to 9.3% in 2021, compared with 10.7% in 2019. This is now lower than in 2018 (10.6%) and 2016-2017 (10.7%).   


Except for the Chinese and other Asian ethno-cultural group, which remains unchanged since 2019, all other ethno-cultural groups saw a decrease in representation throughout 2021.   


“At this level, our analysis of job functions also shows clearly how female and ethnic minority leaders are more likely to be sidelined into Human Resources and Marketing & Communications job functions; roles which are traditionally, less likely to lead to the top executive leadership spots than the white male dominated sectors of Digital, Data & Technology, Commercial & Procurement, Governance & Operations and Finance.” 


New Financial Report: Accelerating Black Inclusion, April 2021 (link) 


A qualitative analysis focusing on the progression of Black professionals into leadership positions across the UK financial services industry. 


Just over half of the sample of more than 50 financial services firms made some kind of public statement within the two months following the death of George Floyd, but only a quarter committed to action, largely led from the US, indicating the unease of the UK corporate conversation on race. 


Black employees, particularly the few Black leaders, were called on to lead the corporate response, effectively taking on a second job. While they were willing to contribute, and benefitted from raising both their own profile and that of the Black inclusion agenda with senior leadership, the work was exhausting and the exposure was not without risk. 


Two-thirds of interviewees said they had experienced racism at work and for most, the incidents were subtle rather than egregious. 


Where racism and discrimination were acknowledged, interviewees rarely raised it at the time or reported it afterwards. Most did not feel their complaints would be taken seriously, and they tended to deflect with humour or ignore it. Many felt it was difficult to evidence such incidents, and that occurrences are largely written off as being personal between the individuals involved. When they did raise incidents with colleagues, there was a general assumption that the Black person misunderstood what was said or misread the situation. While each separate event may appear minor and can be shrugged off, a sense of injustice, racial trauma and exhaustion accumulates over time. 


A further layer of racism comes from unconscious or implicit biases, which effect what is and, crucially, what is not expected from Black colleagues, e.g. being perceived as a risk and as not marked out for success.  “A manager might be happy to allocate a smaller task, but the higher profile complex work and promotions go to members of the in-group. This manifests in career stagnation, and Black employees languishing in support and administrative functions with little opportunity to move across into core front office roles.” 


The main thematic barriers to progression include striving to fit in; the consequences of the lack of representation of Black people and the related ‘tall poppy syndrome’, where Black professionals who reach senior positions face the risk of exposure and have to accept that everything they do is examined under a microscope; accusations of tokenism; and lack of affinity bias and familiarity with the unwritten rules to get ahead. The way these barriers overlap and compound each other make them uniquely challenging to Black employees in financial services. 

The ‘Middle’ Report, 2nd Edition, Black British Business Awards (link) 


A report on how to address racism and advance ethnic minority professionals at work


“We asked HR Directors and D&I Practitioners how often their company board and executive committee receive management information about the progression of BAME talent in their organisations. Only 4.3% of HR and D&I respondents answered ‘always’, and 23.9% responded ‘often’.  It is striking that 42% of HR Directors and 27% of D&I Practitioners did not answer this question concerning management information, suggesting that they may not know or may be unwilling to disclose the extent to which they share information with their senior leadership. This also raises the question of whether senior leaders either do not notice that they are not receiving information about the progression of BAME talent, or do not insist upon better reporting.”




Parker Review Update, Ethnic Diversity: Enriching Business Leadership (link)


Update on independent review considers how to improve the ethnic and cultural diversity of UK boards


“Ethnic diversity needs to be given the same level of board room focus that finally led to increasing female representation on boards, which has seen real progress in recent years.”

Directors of colour comprise 

7.5% of all FTSE 350 directors

5.3% of all FTSE 250 directors

11.3% of all FTSE 100 directors

where the ethnicity of the individuals is known.




Just 8 companies account for nearly 25% of the directors of colour across the FTSE 350.


More initiatives aimed at increasing ethnic representation through the pipeline are being reported, but these are often unlikely to increase ethnic diversity in senior management in the short run. The number of stated initiatives is still very low, and mostly focus on general progression rather than specifically increasing ethnic diversity in senior management.


The evidence that diverse teams, when managed and led well, outperform homogenous teams, is robust. Responsibility for managing performance associated with greater gender and ethnic diversity should rest, not with a ‘diversity’ director, but with the leadership team, and ultimately the Chair.


“[We] suggest that there may be longstanding talent bias, and … little interest in or appreciation of the benefits that ethnic diversity can bring into the Boardroom. The second is to recognise that race and ethnicity are the most difficult things to talk about in the United Kingdom, for good and bad reasons – they are just too hard and too sensitive.”


“Unless corporate Britain is willing to confront [the talent bias] issue, well-trained, qualified people will continue to be overlooked by a system that has not been designed or trained to look for them, develop their commercial acumen or understand the diversity of experience and thought they bring – let alone appreciate it and see it as valuable.”


“It is clear to us that Board Chairs need to drive this change, and push past the institutional inertia that can exist where there is a pre-existing talent bias. Board Chairs need to start by changing conversations, changing practices, changing expectations, changing minds and ultimately changing organisations. The Parker Review asks them to be the agents of change and encourages them unreservedly.”


“The question for corporate Britain is not about whether the non-white talent is there or ready, the question is whether it is willing to appreciate it, attribute commercial and competitive value to it and change the historical constructs operating currently in the Boardroom and more broadly in our corporate institutions.”


Race At Work Black Voices Report (link)


In the top management roles across private sector organisations, just 1.5% are held by Black leaders – an increase of only 0.1% since 2014.


66% of the Black respondents had degrees, masters or PhDs. For the black African ethnic group alone, this stood at 91%.  This contrasts with 87% for the Chinese ethnic group, 80% and 79% for the Indian and Pakistani ethnic groups respectively, and 52% for the white ethnic group. 


33% of black employees feel that their ethnicity will be a barrier to their next career move; in stark contrast, only 1% of white employees feel the same.


Senior leaders must actively sponsor Black talent in their workplaces

Bar Standards Board, Income by Gender and Ethnicity (link)


Incomes at the Bar vary very widely and the analysis of data on income band shows that female barristers and BAME barristers are likely to earn less than male and White barristers respectively.


Income differences are particularly stark when looking at gender and ethnicity together, with female BAME barristers the lowest earning group, and White male barristers are the highest earning group


Even for barristers working in the same area of law and with the similar seniority by year of Call, BAME barristers and female barristers earn less than equivalent White and male barristers, with notable differences in mean income band observed for all of the groups.


There are also differences in the income of BAME barristers once ethnicity is looked at in more detail, with Black and Black British barristers earning less than Asian and Asian British barristers overall. Black African and Asian Bangladeshi are particularly low earning groups, with both of these groups having a median income band of two, a full two income bands below the median value of four for White barristers

HLB International, Unconscious Bias Awareness Study, September 2020 (link) 


Study of whether unconscious bias is responsible for the lack of representation of certain groups of people in leadership positions within the professional services industry


There are only 17 black partners among the top 8 accountancy firms in the UK, which is just 0.4% out of 4,266 partners within these firms.​


“The lack of diversity at the top comes as a direct result of practices and unconscious bias existing on grassroots levels. With a compromised career progression curve, fewer female and non-white candidates manage to make their way to leadership positions, with many giving up on professional growth or the industry as a whole.”

The career progression curve for non-white candidates of both genders differs significantly to that of white professionals. Despite the increased number of graduates coming from different backgrounds, CPA [certified public accountants] firms are still slow to embrace diverse hiring practices.


According to the AICPA 2019 Accounting Graduate Report, in 2018 70% of new accounting grad hires in the USA were white, 14% were Asian, 10% were Hispanic/Latino and 4% were Black/African-American.  However, at partner level, the figure rises to 90% for white candidates and diminishes to 10% for the five other ethnicities cumulatively.


“The lack of graduate supply isn’t to blame, though, as the total number of non-white BA/MA accounting graduates increased to 46% last year versus 58% of white graduates. So if the proportion of non-white graduates has increased, why is this not reflected in the proportion of hires?”


“While the supply of candidates from diverse backgrounds to the industry has steadily increased since the start of the 21st century, the demographic split within CPA firms is still strongly focused on white males, as both our internal and external research suggests.”


“Our own findings suggest that even in richly diverse areas such as Manchester in the UK, there’s no lack of diversity at the entry-level. However, few non-white CPAs progress up the ranks. The current graduate intake of diverse (predominantly Indian, Chinese, and Asian) candidates is at 50%, but less than 10% end up progressing above the mid-level positions.”


“When you’re in the people business and the client service business, it can sometimes be challenging for CPAs with diverse backgrounds, as the people we are serving may not always be as open-minded to diversity as you are. Conversely, diverse teams of clients expect to see themselves in the teams they select to work with.  This raises a serious question for our profession: are white males in leadership positions simply because clients expect to see this? Does this reinforce their world view and their approach to the firms they work with? This trend is seen not just across the professional services industry, but all industries. However, does that mean we should oblige and reinforce their world views, or should we seek to challenge this?”


“Increasing gender and ethnical representation at top levels is integral for the long-term success of any company. In the accounting industry, both independent research and our findings suggest that high levels of diversity generate financial and non-financial dividends.”

Financial News Analysis of London Investment Banks, July 2020 (link) 


Analysis of 11 leading investment banks and leading boutiques assessing data on leaders of European arms, heads of M&A, equity and debt capital markets, leveraged finance and financial sponsors, as well as Managing Directors leading coverage of specific industries from London.


The data showed that, out of the 650 leading investment bankers in these categories in London, only 3 were Black.


The number of senior Black dealmakers, who make up less than 0.5% of those heading up investment banking teams in London, contrasts with a 13% proportion that make up the BAME category, once Asian and other minority ethnic groups are included.


When Financial News asked top investment banks and fund managers to provide details on the proportion of Black employees in their ranks, the majority declined to disclose the numbers.


According to one mid-ranking Black banker, “There’s a huge glass ceiling.  There’s a sea of brown faces at analyst, associate and VP and director level, but they seem to disappear among the managing director group.”

Senior Investment Bankers

in London July 2020


Directors of Colour: 7.5% 

Directors of Colour: 5.3 

Directors of Colour: 11.3 

White Directors: 92.5 

White Directors 94.7%

White Directors 88.7%

bar-graph (1).png

FTSE 350 Companies

FTSE 250 Companies

FTSE 100 Companies

White executives (87%)

All BAME executives 13%

Black executives (0.5%)


77.5% are White

5.5% are Asian

0.8% are other ethnic minority

0.4% are Black

16% unknown Ethnicity

Partner Distribution

Source: HLB International



Green Park Leadership 10,000 Survey and Report (link)


A review of the gender and ethno-cultural diversity of FTSE 100 leadership


“Turning to the prospects for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) leaders in our top companies, … [s]ince 2014, there has been some progress, albeit from a very low base, but with worrying signs in our latest research of plateauing out and even reversal in certain sectors and among some ethnic groups.”


The pipeline of female and BAME talent in FTSE 100 companies showed little change on 2018, with women making up 28.9% (23.8% in 2014) of this group and BAME employees 10.7% (6.2% in 2014).  The least represented group are Black staff at 1.4% (up from 0.3% in 2014).


Black representation at Top 20 level (i.e. Board and Executive Committee) is down across almost every sector when compared to 2018. This is most marked in banking and finance, where Black leaders made up 5.8% of the Top 20 in 2018, but by the time of the 2019 survey this had fallen to just 0.5%.


The Top 100 roles in a firm are senior leaders who report to the Board and Executive Committee and represent the pipeline of tomorrow’s senior executives.  In line with findings elsewhere in the report, most sectors had seen reverses in Black representation in Top 100 roles since 2018. For 2019, Black representation in the Top 100 in banking and finance stood at a mere 1.6%, and in professional and support services it stood at 1%.


McKinsey & Company, Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters (May 2020), (link)


Study investigating the business case for gender and ethnic inclusion and diversity


The business case for ethnic and cultural diversity on boards remained significant in 2019 with a likelihood of a 36% better financial performance than the national industry median (35% in 2014 and 33% in 2017)



McKinsey/LeanIn Report, Women in the Workplace (link)


The largest comprehensive study of women in corporate America


Based on five years of data from 590 US companies employing more than 22 million people, the corporate pipeline flows as follows:










                Source: McKinsey/LeanIn Report, Women in the Workplace (2019)


The Investment Association, Black Voices Report (link)


Report on building Black representation in investment management


"Less than 1% of investment managers are Black – even though people from this ethnic background make up 3% of the UK population and more than 13% of London, the city housing the lion’s share of the UK investment management industry."


"Without clear data it’s difficult to assess where we are today and what needs to happen next. However, the lack of quantitative data should not be used as a reason not to take forward initiatives to improve black representation in investment management businesses."



Black employees 1.4%

Other Bame Employees 9.3%

White Employees 89.3%



Priest et al., Stereotyping across intersections of race and age: Racial stereotyping among White adults working with children. (link)


A study examining the prevalence of racial/ethnic stereotypes among White adults across USA who work or volunteer with children

A high proportion of White adults who work and/or volunteer with children hold negative stereotypes towards non-White racial/ethnic groups. 

Findings showed that respondents were most likely to endorse negative stereotypes towards Black adults and teens (as violence prone, unintelligent, lazy), and least likely towards Asians (more intelligent and hardworking, and less violence-prone, than White people).

Moreover, stereotypes persist towards young children and teenagers of minority groups, not only towards adults.

The findings are broadly consistent with nationally representative population data that show Black and other minority adults are negatively stereotyped in the U.S. and there has been minimal change in documented levels of stereotyping since 1990.

“This study found high levels of observed stereotypes towards Blacks, American Indian/Alaska Natives and Hispanics with adults from these groups all perceived as being lazy, violence prone, unintelligent, and with unhealthy habits more than Whites by substantial proportions of White adults who work and/or volunteer with children. Conversely, each of these stereotypes was observed at lower levels for Asian adults than for Whites, suggesting persistence of ‘model minority’ images...”



The McGregor-Smith Review (link)


Report on issues faced by businesses in developing Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) talent in the workplace

“It is critical that support for building an inclusive business comes from the top – this agenda needs broad executive support, which needs to filter down through organisations.”


“Too many people are uncomfortable talking about race. This has to change.”


“BME individuals in the UK are both less likely to participate in and then less likely to progress through the workplace, when compared with White individuals. Barriers exist, from entry through to board level, that prevent these individuals from reaching their full potential. This is not only unjust for them, but the ‘lost’ productivity and potential represents a huge missed opportunity for businesses and impacts the economy as a whole.”


“No company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion can be taken seriously until it collects, scrutinises and is transparent with its workforce data. This means being honest with themselves about where they are and where they need to get to as well as being honest with the people they employ.”


“Employers must publish their aspirational targets, be transparent about their progress and be accountable for delivering them. The Government must also legislate to make larger businesses publish their ethnicity data by salary band to show progress. This isn’t about naming and shaming. No large business has a truly diverse and inclusive workforce from top to bottom at the moment, but through publishing this data, the best employers will be able to show their successes and encourage others to follow.”

The ‘Middle’ Report, Black British Business Awards and EMPower (link)

A report examining why BAME middle managers are not progressing to senior executive roles within large businesses in the UK

“All the stakeholders we engaged with have a clear intention to improve the current position within their own organisations, but feel hamstrung by the discomfort of discussing race in the work place and lack of availability of data to help them to determine strategic priorities for targeted initiatives.”


“Stakeholders agree that relevant baseline data is important both in order to measure progress against a starting point, and to construct a change agenda for greatest and lasting impact.”


“Executive Sponsors, HR Directors and D&I Practitioners all agree that BAME employees progress at a slower rate than their counterparts, that they receive fewer promotion opportunities even when ready for promotion, and that there is a further factor of low retention rates for BAME employees.”


Equality and Human Rights Commission, Healing a Divided Britain (link)


Major review into race inequality in Great Britain


Black workers with degrees were on average found to earn 23.1% less than white workers with similar qualifications.


In Britain, around 10.7% of white people worked as managers, directors and senior officials, but for Black people that figure was just 5.7%.


Black people who leave school with A-levels typically get paid 14.3% less than their white peers.



Wyatt and Silvester, Reflections on the Labyrinth: Investigating Black and Minority Ethnic Leaders’ Career Experiences (Human Relations, 2015, Vol. 68(8) 1243 –1269)


“BME managers found it harder to access informal organizational processes (e.g. from networks) to increase their visibility and reputation with senior decision-makers. Instead, they relied on formal processes, such as focusing on working longer and harder in their roles, learning how to pass formal promotion assessments, or participating in formal networks, development and mentoring schemes in order to progress. In contrast, white managers treated formal and informal routes as equally legitimate ways to progress their careers.”


“In contrast, informal processes rely more heavily on contextual performance, which according to Borman and Motowidlo (1993: 73) includes job behaviour that can ‘support the organizational, social and psychological environment in which the technical core must function’ such as volunteering and co-operating with others. In our study, contextual performance was evident amongst those who achieved ‘high-profile’ work assignments, which, despite requiring similar levels of task performance, were considered superior owing to their greater contribution to the organization’s objectives and the resulting exposure they gave managers.”


“Importantly, contextual performance relies more heavily on tacit knowledge of organizational practices, which is rarely written down or formalized (Nonaka, 1994), but acquired through shared experiences and communication via workplace relationships with those who have the know-how and understanding of the skills required for specific contexts (Nonaka and von Krogh, 2009). As such, tacit knowledge is likely to be accessed via guides, such as mentors, network contacts and relationships with senior personnel (Blass et al., 2007) – the very relationships that BME managers report difficulty in forming, both here and in previous studies (Ibarra and Deshpande, 2007; Ragins, 2010). This suggests that they will find it more difficult to gain the knowledge or ‘golden thread’ to help them navigate informal routes through the labyrinth.”


“While BME managers may have to rely on explicit knowledge about formalized paths to reach their goal, it seems that white managers are more likely to be passed a ‘golden thread’ to help guide them through informal channels, allowing them to progress more quickly to leadership roles.”



Rafferty, Ethnic Penalties in Graduate Level Over-Education, Unemployment and Wages: Evidence From Britain (Work, Employment & Society 26(6): 987–1006)


“Although past research suggests education for many minority ethnic men and women has provided a route to better employment or higher occupational status (Dale et al., 2002; Modood, 2004; Platt, 2007), the current findings indicate higher level qualifications still do not appear to provide a panacea or facilitate an equalization of labour market outcomes to those of comparably educated white UK born men and women.”


“Although vocational differences between ethnic groups may partly reflect historical patterns of geographical and occupational settlement, ethnic or racial stereotyping and workplace cultures related to both gender and ethnicity can place significant barriers to accessing professions, career advancement, or moving occupations (Bolton and Muzio, 2008; Bradley et al., 2007; Stainback et al., 2010).”

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