Business Secretary Vince Cable has welcomed a new business-led initiative aimed at encouraging diversity on the boards of Britain’s biggest companies.
Despite the increasing success of ethnic minority communities, in particular British Asians, the boardrooms of the UK’s largest corporations are dominated by white executives.
The new initiative, launched this week by Mr Cable and called The 2020 Campaign, has set a target of no all-white boards amongst the FTSE 100 by the year 2020.
The campaign follows a similar initiative which called for greater gender equality – also championed by the Liberal Democrat MP – in the UK’s corporate boardrooms.
Mr Cable, a long-term champion of Britain’s minorities, said: “Diversity stretches beyond gender balance. I want us to extend the successful campaign we have led to increase female representation on FTSE 100 boards to tackle visible ethnic minorities in Britain’s top companies.
“Black and ethnic minority representation is much lower than we would expect if company boards reflected the population of this country.
Despite ethnic minorities representing some 15% of the population they only make up just over 5% of FTSE 100 board members and falling, according to research by the 2020 Campaign.
There are just two black and two South Asian FTSE 100 Executives whilst nearly 70% of boards are all-white with not a single ethnic minority executive.
As part of his campaign, Mr Cable has urged FTSE 100 companies to ensure they hire at least one non-white director by 2020.
“We know that businesses with diversity at their top are more successful”, Mr Cable said.
He added that the campaign would be even more successful if inclusiveness began across all businesses as well as within government.
“We need to encourage businesses to disclose and record the ethnicity of their executives while making sure they nurture talent from all backgrounds and are truly meritocratic about progression to the top.
“Government must also put its house in order. I have instructed my officials to put in place a pilot programme to better measure ethnic diversity in my department.
“If this proves successful I will encourage it to be rolled out across government.”