Last reviewed 19 January 2022

A campaign aimed at increasing racial and ethnic participation in business has seen 100 firms sign up since it was launched by the CBI in October 2020.

CBI President, Lord Karan Bilimoria, explained: “We can and must vastly improve racial and ethnic diversity in business. Not only is it a vital step towards giving more people the chance to succeed and making society more inclusive; the business case is also crystal clear. Diverse companies perform better on every metric”.

BAE Systems, Britvic, First Group plc, Mace Group, Miles Advisory, Paysafe and Sage are among the latest signatories to “Change the Race Ratio”.

Companies that agree to join the campaign make the following four Commitments to Change:

  • to increase racial and ethnic diversity among Board members

  • to increase racial and ethnic diversity in senior leadership

  • to publish a clear action plan to achieve the targets and share progress in the annual report or on the company website

  • to create an inclusive culture in which talent from all diversities can thrive.

Employer should, the CBI suggests, focus 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; and working with a more diverse set of suppliers and partners, including minority owned businesses.

Charles Woodburn, BAE Systems plc Chief Executive, said: “We are very proud to support the Change the Race Ratio campaign in helping to bring greater ethnic diversity to British businesses. We believe that developing an inclusive, diverse workplace where everyone contributes their unique experiences and insights will help drive innovation and future success for business”.

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

Introducing ethnicity reporting can be a useful way of evaluating the number of under-represented employees and proactively take steps to increase this.

However, business should also consider wider approaches to encouraging workplace inclusion. For example, introducing diversity and unconscious bias training for managers and communicating a clear zero-tolerance approach to any form of bullying, discrimination or harassment related to ethnicity.

Businesses can also successfully leverage the benefits associated with positive action tools within their recruitment strategies.

Examples of positive action include: putting statements in job adverts to encourage applications from under-represented groups, such as "we welcome applicants from all backgrounds and ethnicities”; offering training to help certain groups get opportunities or progress at work; offering mentoring to groups with particular needs; or hosting open days specifically for under-represented groups to encourage them to get into a particular field.