According to a new study, lack of diversity in the boardrooms of UK companies could hamper post Brexit trade talks with countries outside of the EU.
What’s are the UK’s unique selling points? There are many, of course, including the position of its time zone. The UK shares with Portugal and the Canaries the best time zone in the world for international communication, as the working day overlaps with the working day in both Japan and California – and all countries in-between.
But another USP is the diversity of its population. This has multiple benefits. As Joel Blake, a judge at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards told Fresh Business Thinking: “We can’t plan for what happens when ideas collide but we know what will happen if they don’t. If we can find a way to merge differences and we get convergence, things become really exciting.”
But there is another benefit to diversity, it means that the UK has cultural links, in some cases very strong links, with many countries outside of the EU. Take India, as an example, now the fastest growing large economy in the world, an economy that is expected to overtake both the US and China in size during the course of this century. If the UK cannot build upon the ethnic diversity within its population to forge trade agreements and establish trading arrangements with countries around the world, maybe something is wrong – badly wrong.
Lack of diversity in the boardroom could be the issue.
According to a new report from executive search company Green Park, the number of FTSE 100 companies with no ethnic minorities at senior level has fallen from 62 to 58. And if you want to know what number describes the volume of CEOs or chief financial officers of FTSE 100 companies who are women from ethnic minority backgrounds, that number is round, fat and called zero.
Taj Tulsiani, chief exec at Green Park said: “In light of the UK’s desire to increase trade with non-EU countries, the ongoing inability of our leading companies to attract and retain leaders from east Asian and African backgrounds should be a matter for serious concern.
“The UK’s aspiration to be outward looking and open to business with the non-European world is hardly enhanced by the continued lack of challenge in the boards of our leading companies, still statistically and behaviourally dominated by men of similar cultural and educational backgrounds.”