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Recruiters charged with diversifying UK boardrooms still mainly white

Only six black executives and board members working for leading headhunters, the Guardian finds


The Guardian | August 17, 2020



The Guardian article, “Recruiters charged with diversifying UK boardrooms still mainly white," quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Clarke Murphy on why it's critical that executive searc​h firms are led by a diverse slate of leaders and steps Russell Reynolds Associates is taking to drive change, both internally and externally. The article is excerpted below.

While Britain's largest businesses are under mounting pressure to diversify their leadership teams, the headhunting companies in charge of filling those boardroom seats are still predominantly white.

The world's leading executive headhunters are known as the SHREK firms: Spencer Stuart, Heidrick & Struggles, Russell Reynolds, Egon Zehnder and Korn Ferry. Between them, there are only six black leaders among 81 global head office executive and board members, according to figures compiled by the Guardian. Two – Egon Zehnder and Spencer Stuart – have no black leaders at all.

The Black Lives Matter protests have also forced headhunters to pause and reflect. Russell Reynolds' chief executive, Clarke Murphy, wrote an open letter last month to the executive search industry, urging more action to support black professionals.

He also joined members of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), which includes Heidrick & Struggles, Korn Ferry and Spencer Stuart, in signing a pledge to tackle racism and discrimination and support black staff, clients, and candidates. Egon Zehnder, which is not a member of the AESC, told the Guardian that the firm was also working to increase the diversity of its top leadership team.

"Clients come to us for counsel in these areas and expect that we practice what we preach," Murphy said. “We have made a firm commitment and are taking action to measurab​ly do better. It is the right thing to do and it is good business."

To read the full article, click here.


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Recruiters charged with diversifying UK boardrooms still mainly white