Labour supports diversity quotas as white men still dominate British business

Is forcing companies to promote more women and ethnically diverse employees to the board the best way to improve diversity in business? The Labour party thinks it might be time to take this step.

Labour has said it could introduce quotas for the numbers of women and ethnic minorities on company boards, as a study has revealed that top British businesses are suffering from a “diversity deficit”.

Researchers from executive recruitment consultancy Green Park analysed 10,000 executives in the FTSE 100 and found that of the top 289 jobs, only 12 are held by women, and just 10 by ethnic minorities.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “The continued existence of a glass ceiling for women and ethnic minorities in our boardrooms is undeniable and unacceptable.

“Whilst advances on non-executive appointments in recent years have been welcome, progress on executive positions has been lamentable.

“It is clear there is a pipeline of women and ethnic minority candidates, achieving the highest qualifications, who are available for the top jobs and merit appointment, but not nearly enough of them make it through.

“If we do not see enough progress on increasing diversity in our boardrooms, we could consider introducing more prescriptive measures, such as quotas, in a future Labour government.”

Former Equality and Human Rights Commission chairman Trevor Phillips, who worked on the study with King’s College London academic Professor Richard Webber, said: “In the past decade there has been a growing consensus that our business elite is simply too narrow in its outlook, too prone to a herd mentality and just not switched on enough to the 21st century world.

“As China grows to be the largest consumer market in the world; and as the United States becomes a majority-minority society the fact that two thirds of our biggest companies have all white executive teams - and apparently not one person of Chinese descent - should set off a big red flashing light that we aren’t equipping ourselves to compete in these markets.

“And as women become more important consumers domestically, it’s self-defeating that they remain junior partners at the top of our economy.

“The fact is that if we’re going to earn our way out of the recession, we just can’t afford to be saddled with a diversity deficit this big.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Anonymous

    I do think politicians need to begin by focusing on the fundamental changes needed for Parliament in order that people in constituents can gain the Quality needed in their MP representations so that positive results can be achieved for them.

    Currently, MPs have No legal or Statutory Obligation to represent anybody - let alone constituents. It cannot be right that MPs representations go unmeasured for their Quality and Untested for the Achievements. Both these objectives MUST give constituents opportunities for the Parliamentary Ombudsman to hear such claims of weak representations... etc. Why is it that teachers, nurses.. achievements are tested in the form of 'targets', but MPs - who we pay £67,000 a year (soon to rise) - go untested?? This cannot be right, and should not continue to be tolerated by the public.

    Please do not allow politicians to 'pull the wool our eyes' by focusing on bringing diversity into Parliament without Parliament itself undergoing the fundamental changes it desperately needs, first.

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  • Anonymous

    The House of Commons should reflect the population as a whole.. Therefore, a proportion of members should be educationally sub normal..

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