• International Workplace
  • 7 October 2020

Campaign launched to increase racial and ethnic participation in senior leadership

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), alongside companies including Aviva, Brunswick, Deloitte and Microsoft, are working to launch Change the Race Ratio – a campaign to increase racial and ethnic participation in British businesses.

The campaign is calling for businesses to set and publish clear targets for greater racial and ethnic diversity at board, ExCo and ExCo minus one levels. Companies are invited to become signatories to Change the Race Ratio, which will launch officially at the end of October.

As signatories to the campaign, companies make the following four Commitments to Change:

  1. Increase racial and ethnic diversity among board members. Take action to set targets to achieve:
    • FTSE 100 – at least one racially and ethnically diverse board member by end 2021.
    • FTSE 250 – at least one racially and ethnically diverse board member by 2024.
  2. Increase racial and ethnic diversity in senior leadership:
    • Take action at ExCo and ExCo minus one to set clear and stretching targets and publish them within 12 months of making this commitment.
    • In addition, establish a separate target for black participation at both levels.
  3. Be transparent on actions:
    • Publish a clear action plan to achieve targets and share progress in the Annual Report or on the company website.
    • In addition, disclose ethnicity pay gaps by 2022, at the latest.
  4. Create an inclusive culture in which talent from all diversities can thrive:
    • Focusing on recruitment and talent development processes to drive a more diverse pipeline.
    • Data collection and analysis.
    • Fostering safe, open and transparent dialogue, with mentoring, support and sponsorship.
    • Working with a more diverse set of suppliers and partners, including minority owned businesses.


These commitments are in line with the recommendations of the Parker Review into ethnic diversity in UK boards, published in 2016. Little progress has been made since then – at the beginning of 2020, an update to the Parker Review revealed “slow progress” – 37% of FTSE 100 companies surveyed do not have any ethnic minority representation on their boards. The Change the Race Ratio aims to put that right and accelerate progress towards more inclusive and diverse British businesses.

Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE DL, CBI President, said:

“The time has come for a concerted campaign on racial and ethnic participation in business leadership. Progress has been painfully slow. We want to do for racial and ethnic diversity what the 30% Club has done so successfully for gender equality.”

Richard Houston, Senior Partner and Chief Executive of Deloitte UK, said:

“The energy of the Black Lives Matter movement has given a fresh sense of urgency around racial diversity in business. Change the Race Ratio aims to grasp this moment to create real and lasting change.”

Gideon Moore, Linklaters' Firmwide Managing Partner, said:

“There is currently a woeful lack of racial and ethnic diversity across company boards and senior leadership positions in UK businesses. We are proud to be partnering with the CBI and other leading organisations to launch Change the Race Ratio, translating statements of commitment to Diversity and Inclusion into action and accelerating change. Greater racial and ethnic participation at all levels of business is vital if we are to ensure that we have a truly inclusive culture in the world of work.”

The benefits of diversity

Evidence shows that more diverse organisations and boards make better business choices, exhibit greater growth and innovation, and carry lower risk. Research from McKinsey highlights that the business case for diversity and inclusion remains robust and the relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance has strengthened over time.

However, diversity doesn’t only need to be incorporated at board level; it should be an organisation-wide goal. Diversity and inclusion should be incorporated into organisations’ learning and development programmes. The concepts and practices can be built into staff training courses, management training and teambuilding programmes to increase awareness.

Diversity issues can be included in induction programmes, so that all new employees know about the organisation’s values and policies. Consider also awareness-raising programmes, such as ‘lunch and learn’ sessions about various aspects of diversity to help people appreciate difference. Line managers should also be trained to help them understand the issues and drive their support for organisational and operational policies and practices.