More than 1 in 3 UK boardrooms are internationally diverse


More than one in three bosses at the UK’s biggest listed firms are non-British nationals, and just one in eight groups in the FTSE 100 index have an all-British Board.

At the beginning of this month, 36 chief executives of FTSE 100 organisations were from overseas whilst 36% were non-UK nationals, according to a Financial Times analysis of data from Boardex.

The figures emphasise how the UK has developed to be among the most internationally diverse countries when it comes to the Boardroom.

By comparison, analysis conducted last year by headhunters, Spencer Stuart, discovered that only 8.1% of Directors at the top 200 S&P 500 companies were non-US nationals and 45% of these groups had Boards made up wholly of US citizens.

The analysis by Spencer Stuart of European companies also revealed that France, Germany, Spain and Italy all had lower quantities of non-national Directors at their largest quoted groups. In addition, when appointments of executives to company Boards were researched, the firm discovered even wider gaps.

One of the obvious features of the UK numbers is the wide range of firms led by a foreign individual. Firms such as Royal Bank of Scotland and the recently privatised Royal Mail are led by non-nationals, with the former being headed by New Zealander Ross McEwan and the latter, Canadian Moya Green.

Will Dawkins, who heads Spencer Stuart’s UK practice, believes there can be a case for adding international Non-Executive Directors even to the Boards of groups that are focused on the UK.

“A good Board should be built with an eye to the future strategy of the company, and if you believe the company is going to be more international in the next six years or so, you might want an international perspective even if your current business is largely domestic,” he said.

“And a business focused entirely on its home market may still benefit from having a Non-Executive from overseas if it has an international shareholder base.”

Dawkins believes that governance rules will put a halt to the growth in appointing non-national directors, although large listed UK companies have become much more international in the past few years.

“There is a natural constraint on how far the internationalisation can go, as there is rightly the requirement for Non-Eexecutives to be physically present for Board meetings, and so that can limit the pool of overseas candidates,” he said.

Image courtesy of flickr user k2space

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