Increasing diversity at board level—and throughout companies—is acknowledged as a priority by business, government and regulators as well many shareholders and customers.

Companies have made welcome progress in increasing gender diversity on boards over the last five years, with the FTSE 100 sector as a whole meeting the 25% target set by Lord Davies by the end of 2015.

However, this headline achievement masks the reality of how individual companies are  performing: our top boards still remain male and White, and the lack of women in executive director roles at Britain’s biggest companies is particularly stark.

Outdated attitudes and opaque selection processes make improving diversity a challenge. Our inquiry found continuing reliance on ‘old boys’ networks’ to source candidates, reluctance to cast the net more widely and selection based on vague notions of ‘chemistry and fit’, all of which lead to boards recruiting in their own image.

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