Members of the Association of Executive Recruiters (AER), a specialist group within the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), have been tasked by Sir John Parker to lead an industry review of the government’s voluntary code for executive search firms, to help improve ethnic diversity within UK boardrooms. 

The development follows a roundtable event this month where AER members hosted chair of the Parker Review Committee, Sir John Parker, and co-chair, David Tyler, to discuss strategies to improve the ethnic diversity of UK boards. 

A report published by the Parker Review Committee in November found: 

  • While 14 per cent of the population identify as black and minority ethnic, only 1.5 per cent of directors in FTSE 100 boardrooms are UK citizens from a minority background. 
  • More than half (53 per cent) of FTSE 100 boards do not have any directors of colour.

The Committee has recommended that each FTSE 100 board should have at least one director of colour by 2021, and has identified executive search firms as being key to making this a reality.

The AER’s work reviewing the voluntary code to address ethnic diversity will build upon the Davies Review in 2011, which aimed to improve the representation of women at board level. Response to the Davies Review resulted in women’s representation on the FTSE 100 boards doubling in less than five years. 

Sir John Parker, chair of the Parker Review Committee, said: 

“The boardrooms of Britain's leading companies do not reflect the ethnic diversity of either the UK or the stakeholders that they seek to engage and represent. With 30 per cent of the population estimated to be from a non-white background by 2051, it is a commercial imperative that UK business responds to cultural and demographic change, to compete in the global market. Executive search firms have an important role to play in helping bring about this change.”

Sarah Thewlis, managing director, Thewlis Graham Associates and chair of the REC’s Association of Executive Recruiters, said: 

“As search professionals, we know that jobs transform lives and we are committed to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their background, can succeed and progress to the top.

“Recruitment and executive search professionals rose to Lord Davies’ challenge in 2011 and were a key partner in helping to reach the target of 25 per cent female representation on FTSE 100 boards by 2015. 

“We welcome the Parker Review recommendations and are delighted to bring the industry together to review the code and help make these aspirations a reality.” 

SOURCE: The Recruitment and Employment Federation