Tesco Chairman: White males are an endangered Boardroom species

Tesco Chairman: White males are an endangered Boardroom species

Tesco's Chairman has said that he believes white men are becoming an endangered species at the top of British businesses.

John Allan, who sits alongside nine other men and three women on the Tesco Board, made the comments at a business conference last week - The Independent reports.

He said: “For a thousand years men have got most of these jobs. The pendulum has swung very significantly the other way and will do for the foreseeable future”.

“If you are a white male, tough. You are an endangered species and you are going to have to work twice as hard.”

Allan, who earns £650,000 a year, also added: “If you are female and from an ethnic background, and preferably both, then you are in an extremely propitious period.”

However, preliminary findings from The Leadership 10k, by Green Park, reveal that women are three times more likely than their male counterparts to need a qualification from a prestigious university to gain a Board position in the UK.

The report also found that just 35% of Non-Executive Directors are women whilst only ten per cent of Executive Directors are female.

The Executive Search firm’s study also found that, whilst numbers of senior female employees in the health sector are declining, levels of senior female employment in technology, engineering, consumer goods, constuction, property, media and natural resources are all improving.

Raj Tulsiani, Co-founder and CEO of Green Park, said: “It’s encouraging to see further progress towards gender diversity on the Boards of our biggest companies. However, the fact that the vast majority of leaders with an education from Russell Group or Ivy League universities were women shows that female leaders need to achieve more than men before they even start their careers. 

“We must work harder to improve holistic gender equality in business.”

Last year, Nicky Morgan, then Minister for Women and Equalities and MP for Loughborough, shared her concerns about the failure of top businesses to hire women.

She said: “There are still more people called John chairing FTSE 100 Boards than there are women.”

John Allan’s comments come as it is revealed the four out of ten CEOs in the FTSE 100 are now non-UK nationals. The figures were revealed by recruitment firm Odgers Berndstson’s survey.

The rise is linked, in part, to the increase in FTSE 100 companies based outside the UK since 2001.


Image courtesy of Flickr user Tesco PLC.

Comments (5)

  • Safia Boot
    Safia Boot
    Wed, 15 Mar 2017 6:44am GMT
    What is staggering is his someone who clearly must be used to studying company accounts can get away with using a nebulous expression such as "The pendulum has swung very significantly the other way" when it comes to the representative numbers of women and ethnic minorities. The word "significant" and similar is so often used by such people without quoting the figures that the only people they are seeking to influence are people of privilege like themselves in order to make themselves feel there is no action they need to take to stop recruiting and promoting in their self image because of the Darwinian principle that the smartest and strongest of the species will simply rise to the top via a process of evolution. So we could be waiting a few more hundred years+ for gender equality (depending on which country you are in) according to WEF global estimates. Hence why this is not good enough and we need to demand a change without being diversity apologists and those organisations who use diversity for quick window dressing PR by saying things like "well it's complex and we should not expect change overnight" - who said anything about 'overnight!' - a decade or two would be nice so if I have grand children I might live to see the it
  • Leo
    Tue, 14 Mar 2017 2:31pm GMT
    The Tesco Board should have some equality, diversity and inclusion training....
  • Q
    Tue, 14 Mar 2017 9:26am GMT
    The person best for the job should get the job! how hard is that to grasp, and who cares what race, sex... you are, where you originated from. Yes I agree, i believe in equality. I could write so much on this topic, having a white male husband who and being a British Asian women. He was not pushed as a child anywhere near as much I was, so everything i ever wanted i fought for and we went for the same job and i got it, why? because i grafted for it, practiced, had sleepless nights, not because i am an British Asian women, but because i wanted it more. He thought be would get it with out the work. who ever is best suited! its that simple.
  • Madi
    Mon, 13 Mar 2017 1:45pm GMT
    23% of the Tesco Board is female. I'm sure the remaining 77% of the Board is feeling the imminent danger of extinction. As Talent Specialist says, it is incredibly unhelpful language given the importance of gender diversity, especially at the top of organisations, and I would expect better of a representative of Tesco given their position as one of the largest employers in the UK.
  • Talent Specialist
    Talent Specialist
    Mon, 13 Mar 2017 12:44pm GMT
    This is the kind of narrow minded, protectionist attitude that makes it difficult for progress to be made. If you look at the Tesco Board, you see there is more work to be done.

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