Boardroom diversity

'There needs to be uniformity, homogeneity and consistency at board level.' These are words that you are unlikely to have ever seen written in a policy and yet they are in evidence across our boardrooms. Here we look at the issue of diversity and its influence over effective, risk and control.

Diversity, equality and inclusion has been a hot topic for many years and has grown in stature in UK governance. Chief audit executives (CAEs) need to consider different perspectives on diversity and its effect on organisations to ensure that compliance is just one aspect of their role.

This guidance is not just about individuals in the workplace. Business Dictionary defines workplace diversity as 'a mixed workforce that provides a wide range of abilities, experience, knowledge, and strengths due to its heterogeneity in age, background, ethnicity, physical abilities, political and religious beliefs, sex, and other attributes'.


Corporate governance requirements make it clear that a lack of boardroom diversity is unacceptable, echoing the messages from pressure groups. The glass ceiling, as referred to by women, is also known as the rainbow ceiling by the LGBT+ community and the class ceiling for those without social privilege. It also presents a barrier to members of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. 

The Public Sector Equality Duty (from the Equality Act 2010) has seen annual reporting by public bodies and civil service for gender, disability and ethnicity across all levels of office; due to transparency requirements the public sector provides extensive statistics.

The issue of inequality, however, carries across all sectors with similar statistics in private, public and even the more altruistic third sector and charities. Diversity is a societal issue that impacts all organisations and individuals. A report by the charity commission found that only 5% of trustees were recruited through…