A government-backed board of senior industry leaders meets for the first time today with the aim of encouraging executives to act as Change Agents to promote diversity and inclusion.
The Men as Change Agents (MACA) “Lead the Change” board sees experienced names in business come together to work with organisations across the UK to try to achieve greater equality and opportunity at the top of companies.
The MACA Lead the Change board supports the Hampton-Alexander Review into female leadership to help make 33% of executive level FTSE 350 business leaders women by the end of next year.
Figures published in March showed that 66 companies in the FTSE 350 have only one women on their boards, while three have no women at all.
The board will also aim to ensure that each FTSE 100 board has at least one ethnic minority director by 2021, and each FTSE 250 board should have at least one ethnic minority director by 2024, both recommendations of the Parker Review into ethnic diversity on UK boards.
In July 2017 Sir John Parker found that only 85 of the 1,050 director positions in the FTSE 100 were held by people from ethnic minorities and only 2% of director positions were held by ethnic minority UK citizens.
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.
“Equality at work has a huge benefit to business, the economy and society. I want it to be just as easy for an ambitious women to get a job as an ambitious man.”
Co-chairs Emer Timmons and Denis Woulfe will emphasise how diversity and inclusion is good for business, with organisations 21% more likely to have above-average profits if they are in the top 25% for gender diversity on their executive teams.
In a statement the co-chairs said: “It is now widely accepted that the workplace needs to become more diverse and inclusive and there is much more that the business community can do to lead the change.
“We hope that by increasing the number of supportive senior business leaders, the current majority of whom are male, as change agents, and by sharing best practice and ideas which make a difference, we can help accelerate the change we all want to see.”
As part of the Men As Change Agents initiative, business leaders are invited to pledge to:
- To take personal responsibility for promoting better diversity and inclusion in your business and striving to achieve the targets set out by the Hampton-Alexander and Parker reviews
- To promote better diversity and inclusion by sponsoring between one and three individuals from an underrepresented group within your organisation who have the potential to secure an executive role within three years
- To be an active and visible change agent by being part of the wider business conversation and achieving better diversity and inclusion within your organisation as a result.