Diversity, disability, inclusivity An opportunity for UK business

Mike Adams says, “If businesses can start to affect their bottom line by accessing the Purple Pound, they will want to reflect their increasingly diverse consumer base in their own workforces.”

However, it is clear that the UK still has some way to go when it comes to diversity in the boardroom.

Following the 2017 publication of the Parker Review into Ethnic Diversity in the Boardroom, its chairman Sir John Parker, said, “Today’s FTSE 100 and 250 Boards do not reflect the society we live in, nor do they reflect the international markets in which they operate.”

Seamus Nevin is the IoD’s Head of Policy Research and says, “the UK has one of the most diverse populations in the world. Diversity is our strength but often we don’t capitalise on that strength in the workplace. McKinsey research shows that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, so the incentives are clear. Business leaders should focus on how they can make better use of this asset – their diverse workforce.”

The following facts provide a snapshot on diversity in British business today…


19 – The percentage of the UK population that have rights under current disability legislation. Out of that 19% only 4% are wheelchair users but the international sign for disability (the wheelchair) gives a different (but misleading) perception. Out of that 19%, 80% of disabled people have hidden impairments such as mental health conditions, dyslexia, etc…

420 – A study by the Extra Costs Commission found that 75% of disabled people and their families have left a shop because of poor customer service and that UK businesses risk missing out on as much as £420 million a week through lost sales as a result.

4.3m – A report by Freeney Williams, one of Europe’s leading disability and diversity consultancies, revealed 71% of disabled online consumers in the UK will simply click away from websites that they find difficult to use due to the effect of their disability. That represents 4.3 million online shoppers or 10% of the total UK online spend.

250bn – There are more than 12 million people in the UK with a disability. That represents seven per cent of the population with a combined spending power estimated to be in the region of £250bn and they are loyal towards disabled friendly organisations.

79 – At present, 79 per cent of disabled people in the UK do not have a job. This represents a huge, and untapped, source of talent. Yet, more and more businesses are signing up to Disability Confident, a scheme helps them think differently about disability, and improve how they attract, recruit and retain disabled workers.


9.1 – a report published last month by the Office for National Statistics revealed that gender pay gap has fallen from 10.5% in 2011 to 9.1% in 2017, but still means that on average men are paid more than women. However, the gap is much closer for workers aged 16-30 and stands at 2.4%

10 – In the UK, greater gender diversity on the senior exec team corresponded to improved performance: for every 10 per cent increase in gender diversity, EBIT rose by 3.5 per cent (source McKinsey, 2015)

430bn – A report published by Grant Thornton in 2015 posed the question “Do companies with diverse boards really perform better than those run purely by men, which currently dominate the corporate landscape? The answer is yes: they perform better. Materially better.” The study, which covered listed companies in the UK, US and India, revealed that businesses with at least one woman on the board outperformed male-only boards by $430bn in relation to returns on assets.

Zero – There are no female CEOs or CFOs from minority groups within in the FTSE100 companies. A report by employment agency Green Park suggests this could have a negative impact on the UK increasing trade with non-EU businesses and countries after Brexit.

12 trillion – A report by the McKinsey World Institute stated that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality, adding that If women—who account for half the world’s working-age population—do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer.


14 – Only 1.5% of directors in FTSE100 boardrooms are UK citizens from a minority background whereas 14 per cent of the UK population is identified as black or minority ethnic.

1,050 – The number of people of colour currently holding director positions in the UK, down from 1,087 in 2016. This represents around 2% of the total director population.

75 – According to the Parker Review, the percentage of sales made by FTSE 100 public companies that are derived from trade outside the UK. For FTSE 250 companies the figure stands at over 50% of the sales.

10 – Last September, PwC announced its commitment to making sure a tenth of its partners are ethnically diverse by 2020, having published figures that revealed salaries for people working for PwC from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds were 13 per cent lower than average.

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