New campaign will focus on getting blacks and Asians into private sector leadership.
BUSINESS SECRETARY Vince Cable has vowed to launch a "serious attack" on the lack of ethnic minorities on private sector boards.
Cable quoted figures that show just one in 16 senior management jobs are occupied by blacks and Asians.
"And it is declining according to the figures from 2012," he added. "They (ethnic minorities) are seriously underrepresented…and if we are serious about diversity and using the talent of all our community…we have to address that issue."
Earlier this year a study by Trevor Phillips, a former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and Richard Webber, of King's College London, revealed that more than half of FTSE 100 companies have no non-white directors and two thirds have no full-time minority executives at board level.
According to Cable, the campaign to improve ethnic diversity on boards will be modelled on the government’s drive to improve gender diversity in senior management.
In 2011, Lord Davies, ex-boss of Standard Chartered bank, was tasked by the government with improving the numbers of women in senior business roles.
He set FTSE 100 companies the goal of increasing female board membership to 25 per cent by 2015.
Cable said yesterday: "We are making real progress we are now at 22 per cent and not a single FTSE 100 company doesn’t have women on it; and we are making big headways with the next group of companies, the next 250."
He revealed that he has been in conversation with Phillips and comedian and media diversity campaigner Lenny Henry about the details of the campaign to get ethnic minorities on boards.
The Liberal Democrat said: "We are building a campaign to make serious attack on the lack of representation at the top end of British businesses and making sure we have board rooms which are fully represented in every sense."
"Transparency and openness is the first step," he said.
He claims that the campaign "already has one success" after making it a requirement for companies to report on their board diversity.
"This is quite specific, they will have to say in their company accounts we have x number of black and Asian members of staff at board level," Cable added.
Cable will speak about his campaign tomorrow at the first ever Black British Business Awards (BBB Awards) to recognise the achievements of UK African and Caribbean people who have excelled in business.
Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna, is also expected to make a statement about board level diversity today (October 1).
In February this year he warned that if Labour did not see enough progress on increasing diversity in British boardrooms, it would consider introducing "more prescriptive measures, such as quotas".
He said: "The continued existence of a glass ceiling for women and ethnic minorities in our boardrooms is undeniable and unacceptable."
Sandra Kerr OBE, director of Race for Opportunity, said she was "delighted that both Cable and Umunna have announced plans to review Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation in Britain’s boardrooms."
She added: “This was one of our calls to action in Race for Opportunity’s Race at the Top report in June, which revealed the gap of BAME people in senior leadership had widened between 2008 and 2012 – a loss of over 21,000 BAME senior roles - in the private and public sectors due to a lack of transparency and focus.
"We have been engaging with MPs from all political parties on this issue and look forward to being part of the process over the coming years. I also trust that these firm commitments will make it into the parties' 2015 election manifestos too."