Key elements for any new research must be to try to both engage and inform the reader of a knowledge gap that should be challenged and, in this case, bridged.

We chose to graphically illustrate the lack of diversity at the top level throughout a broad spectrum of private and public institutions by using a series of lists and photos. We hope that the visual impact will speak volumes and encourage us towards a much needed conversation, and hopefully action for positive change.

When we embarked upon this project we really had no idea what the overall number of powerful individuals (1,049) would be and to what extent the disparities, if at all, would show. We simply knew that the exercise would have to be both thorough and undertaken without any preconceived ideas.

Of the 1,049 individuals in positions of power in the UK just 36 are BME, or 3.4% of the total. To put this in context, at the time of the last census in 2011, 12.9% of the population of the UK was from a BME background.

Women from BME backgrounds are even less likely to be represented, with just seven BME women on the list – less than 1% of the total.

The research also shows that the majority of those in positions of power are men. Women account for less than a quarter of the names on our list (23.6%)

Choosing the appropriate private and public posts from a broad spectrum of sectors became a challenge in itself. For us it was a journey that lasted months, and we underwent much to-ing and fro-ing, first internally and then with our partners. The first question we asked ourselves was: ‘What are the institutions that most affect our lives?’

Some are more obvious than others, including national government, the banking industry and our universities, but choosing other sectors thrust us into interesting debates. Why, for example did we choose local elected leaders, and a plethora of CEOs right across the public sector? Why, for example, choose football managers and not owners?

In the main, selecting the various sectors came down to ensuring the legitimacy of the project. We wanted a broad spectrum of sectors that could play a significant role within our society, but equally we very much wanted to say that any one of these 1,000 plus posts should in theory be open to any one of our children here in the UK.

Owning a Premiership football club is not the same as managing one. The first often requires a billion dollar personal bank account, while the second simply demands great football insight, tactical nous and brilliant man management.

The other challenge that presented itself was how to compile the lists. Some were much easier to put together than others. For example, the numbers of elected mayors in the UK are finite and definite. Collating a list of top consultancy firms is an altogether different proposition.

Here we often relied on trade body magazines or websites, but only those who used a compelling matrix to find their top group. For example the source for the UK’s top consultancies – Management Consulted – told us that their list was put together using a matrix that includes: ‘office size, recruiting priority, areas of focus, and third party rankings.’

The project was an exhaustive affair that by its very nature could never be perfect, but one to which we sought to bring as much rigor and legitimacy as possible.

We were acutely aware that the individuals in these posts are not static. For example, we started this project before the general election and had compiled a list of cabinet members and senior minsters, but once a snap election had been called we knew we would have to begin all over again once the newly elected government was in place. In the end our arbitrary cut-off date was 16th July 2017. We are aware, therefore, that by the date of publication some of the individuals may have changed.

Chosen categories :

  • – Politics and the civil service (UK cabinet, Scottish and Welsh devolved administration ministers, and the mayors, party leaders and CEOs of selected English councils)
  • – Business and professional services (including FTSE 100 CEOs and the heads of the largest law, accountancy, advertising, consulting and publishing firms)
  • – Policing, defence and judiciary
  • – Media (editors of the biggest newspaper and lifestyle magazines, and heads of the TV broadcasters)
    education (vice-chancellors of the 50 top universities)
  • – Sport (premier league managers and heads of the sporting bodies)
  • – Arts bodies
  • – Health (CEOs and chairs of the 50 largest NHS trusts by attendance)

How was it sourced?

The full list is as follows (where links are not available source information is provided in brackets):

Wait, aren’t there some people on this list who hold more than one position?

Yes. For example some companies like ITV appear in both the FTSE 100 category and the television broadcasters category. There are 1,070 individual entries on the long list. However, when duplicates are removed (those who hold more than one position or are represented in two different categories) there is a total of 1,049 individuals listed.