That is according to findings from the government-backed McGregor-Smith review released today, which urges businesses with more than 50 employees to publish a breakdown of its workforce by race and pay band.
In addition, it suggests that such companies draw up five-year aspirational diversity targets, and nominate a board member to deliver on them.
Baroness McGregor-Smith, said: “The time for talk on race in the workplace is over, it’s time to act. No one should feel unable to reach the top of any organisation because of their race.
“If businesses and the government act on my recommendations, it will show everyone from a minority background that Britain’s workplace is for everyone not just the privileged few.
“The consequences of continuing to do nothing will be damaging to the economy and to the aspirations of so many. So from the cabinet table to the board rooms, there is no more time for excuses - just change.”
Almost 500 individuals and businesses gave evidence as part of the review, including several FTSE100 companies.
It found that large employers like the NHS, KMPG, and RBS have benefitted from increased innovation, more effective teamwork and a better understanding of customer demands by harnessing BME talent.
However, it also reveals that employment rates for people from such backgrounds are 12% lower than their white counterparts, with just 6% reaching top-level management positions, despite being more likely to have a degree.
“Creating inclusive workplaces where employees are able fulfil their potential regardless of their ethnicity is not only the right thing to do, these businesses are more productive and innovative too,” CBI director for people and skills policy, Neil Carberry, said.
“As this review points out, companies must take the lead to make a real difference and many are already making progress.
‘Greater transparency is a key part of this but it’s important that that we take a business-led approach to plans, targets and reporting systems, rather than a regulatory one.”
The government have today announced a Business Diversity and Inclusion Group to bring organisations together to coordinate action, remove barriers, and monitor employers’ progress, while Business in the Community has agreed to publish an annual list of firms successfully implementing workplace diversity.