Boardroom imbalance

Ella Rhodes reports.

A government-backed review has found more than half of companies in the FTSE 100 do not have ethnic minority members on their boards. Chartered Psychologist Doyin Atewologun was Research Lead on the review, which suggested that every FTSE 100 company should have a minimum of one non-white director by 2021.

The report stated that out of 1087 director positions only 8 per cent are held by non-white people, despite the fact that 14 per cent of the UK is from a non-white ethnic group. And just seven FTSE 100 firms make up more than one third of the directors with an ethnic background.

Dr Atewologun’s research involved developing an index of black and minority ethnic people on FTSE 100 boards and comparing this with gender trends for boards. Psychology has been central to addressing board governance and Atewologun has said that diverse boards can be much better boards.

She added she was pleased by the response: ‘This review has kickstarted the conversation about race in the boardroom, which is often an uncomfortable subject to broach. We had presence from multiple political parties, including the government, senior business leaders, talented board candidates from diverse backgrounds and academics in the audience. Psychologists have an important role to support this agenda, by enabling a shift in mindsets and supporting group dynamics,’ she added.  

Meanwhile the British Psychological Society’s Board Effectiveness Working Group is also actively addressing the psychology of governance. Most recently its members have submitted a consultation response to the House of Commons Business Innovation and Skills Committee on psychology and corporate governance. 

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