A board comprised of senior industry bosses, backed by the Government Equalities Office (GEO), has met for the first time with the aim of encouraging business leaders to act as change agents to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The Men As Change Agents (MACA) “Lead the Change” Board will see some of the most experienced names in business come together to work with organisations across the country.

Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss, said: “Companies that exclude smart, hard-working women because of their gender are missing out on a huge amount of talent. The Men As Change Agents Board is led by heads of business, and they will be using their expertise and influence to work with organisations.”.

As part of their work, the MACA “Lead the Change” Board will support the Hampton-Alexander Review to help reach the target of 33% of executive level FTSE 350 business leaders are women by the end of 2020.

Board members will also work to increase the ethnic diversity in an effort to ensure that each FTSE 100 board should have at least one ethnic minority director by 2021, and each FTSE 250 board should have at least one ethnic minority director by 2024, supporting the work being delivered by Sir John Parker.

Making the pledge

As part of the MACA initiative, business leaders are invited to pledge to:

  • take personal responsibility for promoting better diversity and inclusion in their business and for striving to achieve the targets set out by the above-mentioned Hampton-Alexander and Parker reviews

  • promote better diversity and inclusion by sponsoring up to three individuals from an under-represented group within their organisation who have the potential to secure an executive role within three years

  • be an active and visible change agent by being part of the wider business conversation and achieving better diversity and inclusion within their organisation as a result.

Full details of the initiative including how to take part, can be found at http://www.menaschangeagents.com/whats-happening.

Comment by Peninsula Associate Director of Advisory Kate Palmer

Most employers understand the importance of creating an inclusive working environment. However, there will always be the opportunity to improve diversity further, and certain employers may consider using positive action as a way of achieving this.

Positive action allows employers to justify hiring or promoting an individual based on their protected characteristic.

Employers must ensure they match equally with other suitable candidates, and the characteristic in question is under-represented in their workforce. This approach may prove especially effective when deciding on senior positions.

A diverse leadership group can help set the tone of an organisation and develop an even more inclusive company culture.

Last reviewed 7 October 2019