Trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt has written to 500 of the UK's top companies to urge them to benchmark staff diversity.
She called on them to join Race for Opportunity, which offers specialist support and advice to UK businesses, and rates how ethnic minorities are treated as employees and as customers.
Speaking at the Race For Opportunity annual dinner last week, Hewitt encouraged leading employers to adopt the benchmarking process to make sure they make the most of their workforce and appeal to the widest potential customer base.
"We're determined to create a Britain where everyone can reach their full potential; where racism is unacceptable and is counteracted; and where racial diversity is celebrated," she said.
"I want to make it clear that diversity is crucial - for our economy and our society - and that embracing it can bring real improvements in corporate reputation, employee morale and the bottom line."
"Only 18 FTSE 100 companies went for benchmarking this year. Next year, I want to see this double, or more," she added.
Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton, who is also chair of Race for Opportunity, told the audience that businesses with a diverse workforce that reflect the diversity of the community they serve, will reap the benefits.
"Quite simply, communities equal customers," he said. "It is clear in today's environment that relying on the traditional perceptions of who your community or customer is will not always provide the solution to tomorrow's challenges, or enhance your ability to compete today or in the future."
By Michael Millar