UK leadership study: UK’s most diverse Boards using three types of inclusion and diversity initiatives

11 May 2021

UK leadership study: UK’s most diverse Boards using three types of inclusion and diversity initiatives

Odgers Berndtson and BoardEx surveyed over 600 UK non-executive directors (NEDs) and C-suite members to find out which recruitment and retention initiatives boosted leadership diversity

  • UK-wide study reveals how some of Britain’s most diverse companies are attracting underrepresented candidates to their Boards and leadership teams
  • The study reveals diverse Boards are more likely to use three specific I&D initiatives than non-diverse Boards
  • The study finds that UK business leaders view I&D as something that should be led by HR rather than any other function.

London, 11 May – A study released by Odgers Berndtson, a leading global executive search firm, and BoardEx, a global executive intelligence service, has revealed how companies with strong diversity on their Boards and leadership teams have hired candidates from underrepresented groups.

The UK Leadership Diversity Report follows an in-depth survey of 623 non-executive directors and C-suite members from companies across the UK. The major finding of the report is a clear distinction between the actions taken by diverse companies and non-diverse companies when it comes to recruiting Board and leadership team members.

Diverse companies are three times more likely (36%) than non-diverse companies (10%) to partner with I&D membership organisations and they are twice as likely (38%) to set targets for diversity. In comparison, a mere 15% of non-diverse companies set Board or C-suite level I&D targets.

Reducing unconscious bias in the recruitment process is another hallmark of diverse organisations. Respondents working for an organisation with strong diversity on their Board are twice as likely (73%) to also be working for an organisation that has measures in place to reduce bias in the recruitment of Board members. Only 31% of non-diverse organisations had these measures in place.

Kester Scrope, CEO of Odgers Berndtson, said: “The case for diversity is unequivocal. This report provides clear insights into the measures that can be implemented and the actions that can be taken to make diversity at the top table a reality.”

In addition to implementing specific I&D measures, diverse organisations also demonstrated a clear difference in mindset when it came to approaching I&D.

Respondents from companies with no diversity on their Board were nearly three times (30%) as likely to offer a job to a leadership team candidate who was not able to demonstrate an understanding of I&D. On the other hand, just 13% of respondents from diverse companies would do the same, even if that candidate were an otherwise perfect fit for the job.

The report also offers an insight into the priority of I&D on the Board agenda, and into the role of the Chief Diversity Officer.

Over a third (36%) of NEDs said the Boards they sit on discuss I&D more than five times a year – a frequency that reflects the growing importance of I&D in the Boardroom. However, over two-thirds of NEDs and C-suite members do not believe that large organisations require a dedicated Chief Diversity Officer. Of those that believe the role is unnecessary, the majority (77% of NEDs and 86% of the C-suite) think that the responsibility for I&D should rest with the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). It strongly suggests that UK business leaders view I&D as something that should be led by HR rather than any other function.

About Odgers Berndtson:

For over 50 years, Odgers Berndtson has helped some of the world’s biggest and best organisations find the senior talent to drive their agendas. We deliver executive search, assessment and development to businesses and organisations varying in size, structure and maturity. We work across 50 sectors, whether commercial, public or not-for-profit and draw on the experience of partners and their teams in 35 countries. Learn more about other Odgers Berndtson Locations or Tweet us @OdgersUKNews.

About BoardEx

BoardEx is the leading provider of executive intelligence and relationship mapping solutions. Companies trust BoardEx to identify, qualify and map connection paths to 2 million organisations and the 1.5 million people who lead them. BoardEx is a part of Euromoney People Intelligence, a division of Euromoney PLC which provides organisations with unique data intelligence that connects them with the individuals who will have the greatest impact on their goals. Euromoney People Intelligence is comprised of three unique brands: BoardEx, WealthEngine, and Wealth-X. We empower our clients to build greater relationships, obtain and manage their best talent and reduce commercial risk.