US, Canada and UK's biggest firms only have 12 ethnic minority CEOs

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a Google media event in 2015. Photo: Getty

The biggest listed-companies in the UK, USA, and Canada only have 12 CEOs that are from an ethnic minority background, a new report has found.

This equates to just 4%, according to the new research report by diversity and inclusion membership organisation INvolve.

Canada lags behind the UK and US, with only two CEOs on the country’s S&P 100 from ethnic minority backgrounds — John S Chen, CEO of Blackberry (BB), and Bharat Bhagwanji Masrani, CEO of Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD).

The US has five — including Ajay Singh Banga, CEO of Mastercard (MA) and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google (GOOG) — but none are from an African American or Latin American background. In the UK, out of the five CEOs from an ethnic minority background on the FTSE 100, only one is black — Arnold Wayne Donald, CEO of Carnival (CCL.L).

READ MORE: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga named top ethnic minority executive in the world

INvolve says the research “reinforces the question” of whether businesses are doing enough to promote diversity within their own workplaces and elevating those around them to senior positions.

“We’re genuinely shocked by these figures. To see that only 4% of companies in three of the most influential  economies have CEOs from an ethnic minority background, is quite frankly, ridiculous, and goes to highlight that the lack of diverse talent at the top,” said Suki Sandhu OBE, founder & CEO of INvolve.

“Not only is this morally wrong, it’s harmful to a company’s bottom line as research shows that companies that aren’t diverse have lower profits. 


“To make real change at the top we have to celebrate diverse role models and advocates and provide them with a platform to inspire future generations of diverse leaders. There are also some fundamental legal changes that need to happen in the UK.”

Focusing on the UK, INvolve’s report says that the economy is losing £2.6bn ($3.3bn) due to ethnic minority discrimination and that barely 3% of the 1,000 most powerful, prominent people in Britain are from ethnic minorities.

Each year, INvolve releases a set of role model lists that are intended to champion ethnic minority, female, and LGBT+ executives, allies, and upcoming stars. Yahoo Finance UK is the exclusive supporter for all of INvolve’s role model lists in 2019 and 2020. EMpower, the role model list which champions ethnic minority executives and workers in the world’s largest companies, is accepting nominations right now.

“The EMpower Role Model Lists exist to showcase the incredible work being done by ethnic minority leaders, future leader and their advocates in business, who are driving the change for more inclusive workplaces,” said Sandhu.

“We are now in our fifth year of celebrating fantastic role models and we can’t wait to hear from nominees who are changing the future of inclusion in the workplace.”

See the full EMpower 100 Ethnic Minority Executives 2019 list here