Both the Government and the Opposition have pledged to make ethnic diversity in the boardroom as high profile an issue as the fight for more women at the top.
The Business Secretary Vince Cable is working up plans with Trevor Philips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, to ensure leading UK-listed companies promote and hire black and Asian people on to their boards.
Meanwhile Chuka Umunna, the shadow Business Secretary, will today also pledge to set up a review into ethnicity in boardrooms along the lines of the Davies Review, if he is appointed Business Secretary next year.
In 2011 Lord Davies was hired to produce a report on the number of women on FTSE 100 boards and set a target of 25 per cent by next year. Mr Cable said yesterday “real progress” had been made with 22 per cent reached – and he now wants to target ethnic diversity.
Mr Cable added: “Ethnic minorities are seriously under-represented with just 1 in 16 senior management jobs occupied by ethnic minorities.”
A target for companies to hire non-white board level staff could also be set.
Mr Cable, Mr Phillips and the comedian Lenny Henry are working on a campaign which Mr Cable described as a “serious attack on lack of diversity” in businesses.
In February a study led by Mr Phillips, from Green Park Diversity Analytics, found more than half of FTSE 100 companies have no non-white directors and two-thirds have no full-time executives from a minority background at board level.
Mr Phillips and Mr Cable made the case to the Financial Reporting Council to take race into consideration in addition to gender when they consult on their code in 2016 and he has asked the code to force companies to declare diversity at boardroom level within their annual reports.
Mr Cable said it is important for “elderly white men like myself” to acknowledge that lack of diversity is a problem.
He said the campaign will emphasise that improving diversity is good for business, not just “for political correctness”. He will speak about his plans at the Black British Business Awards tomorrow.
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