In March Vince Cable gave an interview to The Guardian in which he accused the UK’s top companies of neglecting racial diversity in their boardrooms and urged business to use a wider talent pool when making appointments.
He quoted that 20.7% of FTSE 100 directors are female, up from 12.5% in 2011 (although predominantly that increase is because of the appointment of female non-executives rather than female executive directors).
The article went on to say that more than half of FTSE 100 companies have no non-white directors and two thirds have no full-time minority executives at board level. Most would agree this is shocking and needs addressing.
Let’s hope that Vince Cable didn’t see the Retail Week Power List 2014, otherwise we as an industry could face some tough questions over our racial diversity agenda.
Shockingly, out of the top 100 most powerful people in retail, only 12 are women. More shockingly, only three are not white. How do we address this?
It’s no use telling your headhunter to search harder for a diverse shortlist, because these figures are mirrored further down the hierarchy across all retail sectors bar fashion.
I think it is almost a hopeless cause to expect a diversity-balanced board in the near future, although we should never ever give up trying. We have to ensure that successive generations are given the opportunities that today’s generation weren’t.
One of the simplest ways to do that would be for retailers to ask themselves when recruiting entry-level positions: what am I doing to ensure we attract women and ethnic minorities? How can we change our image, policies and processes to attract this audience?
How do we retain, train and develop them, so they become our boardroom leaders of the future? There needs to be serious soul-searching within HR and boards about to how to ensure tomorrow’s generation of women and ethnic minorities have the opportunities that were never afforded today’s.