Decline in boardroom diversity in UK last year: report


The proportion of first-time, female and culturally diverse candidates appointed as non-executive directors by the UK’s largest listed companies dropped sharply last year, a new survey has revealed.


Boards prioritised candidates with experience running publicly listed companies according to recruitment firm Spencer Stuart, which carried out the research on the UK’s 150 biggest listed companies.  

Spencer Stuart’s 2023 UK Board Index revealed a substantial decrease in the proportion of first-time appointees, women, and individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds to non-executive director positions within the top 150 boards.

The representation of minority ethnic non-executive directors dropped by 44 per cent, women by 15 per cent, and first-time appointments by 30 per cent compared to the previous year.

At the level of chief executives and chairs, the survey noted that out of the 20 chief executive appointments during the period, only three were women, and no individuals from an ethnic minority background were appointed.

In contrast, this year saw double the number of chair appointments compared to the previous year, but only four of them were women, while 18 were men. In 2022, there were six female chair appointments compared to five male chair appointments.

“These drops suggest that diversity — in terms of gender, ethnicity, and fresh perspectives — has taken a back seat as boards turn to experienced listed company directors to meet these unprecedented times head on," said Chris Gaunt, head of the UK board and chief executive at Spencer Stuart.

Despite the decline in overall board diversity, the data indicated a positive trend in appointing women to newer positions. With the growing prominence of environmental, social, and corporate governance boards, 78 per cent of ESG chairs were women, marking the highest proportion to date.

The report also highlighted progress in line with the FTSE Women Leaders Review and the Financial Conduct Authority’s 2022 goal to achieve 40 per cent female representation on boards.

In various roles, including chair, senior independent director, chief executive, or chief financial officer, 60 per cent of boards now had at least one woman, an increase from 50 per cent in the previous year.

Read the report HERE

Latest newsRSS