CBI urges company boards to appoint at least one BAME member

CBI president Lord Bilimoria

A new campaign to increase the numbers of black, Asian and ethnic minority directors sitting on the boards of UK companies has been launched.

The Change the Race Ratio initiative, is being spearheaded by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) president, Lord Bilimoria, the first ethnic minority leader in the company's 55-year history. It also has the support of businesses such as Microsoft and law firm Linklaters.

Currently more than a third of FTSE 100 firms do not have ethnic minority representation at board level.

It called for FTSE 100 firms to have at least one racially and ethnically diverse board member by the end of 2021, and for smaller FTSE 250 firms to have the same representation by 2024.

Lord Bilimoria, the founder of the Cobra beer, is modelling his campaign on the 30 Per Cent Club which has successfully battled to get more women into boardrooms.

Subscribers to the campaign will commit to transparent reporting on ethnic representation at senior levels and to revealing their ethnic pay gap by 2022.

Lord Bilimoria said he had begun work on his campaign long before the Black Lives Matter protests.

Evidence shows, boards that have racial and ethnic diversity perform better – McKinsey data from 2019 highlights that in the case of ethnic and cultural diversity.

Richard Houston, UK boss of consultancy Deloitte, said the Black Lives Matter movement had "given a fresh sense of urgency around racial diversity in business".

The Change the Race Ratio campaign will be launched officially at the end of October. Other founding members include Cranfield University, PR firm Brunswick and Russell Reynolds.