UK's largest business group calls for race targets in boardrooms

Britain's leading business trade organization on Thursday, October 1, announced it was to launch a campaign calling for each large firm to have at least one person from an ethnic minority on its board.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) will launch the "Change the Race Ratio" campaign alongside large companies such as the insurer Aviva, the audit firm Deloitte, and tech giant Microsoft at the end of the month, according to CBI president Karan Bilimoria. 

"We believe that the time for change is now: business needs to take urgent action on black and ethnic minority participation at senior leadership levels," he said in a statement posted on CBI's website.

The campaign urges all businesses to set targets for greater racial and ethnic diversity at senior leadership levels.

Its ambition is to have at least one "racially and ethnically diverse" board member at each of the top 100 firms listed on the London Stock Exchange by the end of 2021, and one at each of the top 250 by 2024.

A review in early 2020 found that 37% of FTSE 100 companies did not have any ethnic minority representation on boards, rising to 69% for FTSE 250 companies.

"Our campaign will foster a community that works together and shares good practice – because we know that real change will take time, and a dedicated, concerted, and collaborative effort," said Bilimoria.

"We must challenge and inspire each other to push harder and do better."

He cited a 2019 study by McKinsey that suggested firms with racial and ethnic diverse boardrooms tended to perform better.

Rating agency Moody's recently said that the British bank Lloyds' promise to hire more black executives was good news for its risk profile, linking diversity and the evaluation of a company's debt for the first time. –