Leadership of small and medium enterprises

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2019, 5.1% of UK small and medium enterprise (SME) employers were led by a majority of people from an ethnic minority (excluding White minorities)
  • the health sector had the highest percentage of SME employers that were majority-led by ethnic minorities (8.2%)
  • the agriculture and utilities sectors had the lowest percentage of SME employers that were majority-led by ethnic minorities (0.1%)
  • Northern Ireland had the highest percentage of White-led SME employers out of all UK countries (90.7%)
  • England had the highest percentage of SME employers (5.4%) and non-employer SMEs (4.0%) that were majority-led by ethnic minorities
  • in 2019, 3.8% of UK SMEs with no employees were majority-led by those from an ethnic minority
  • the transport and storage industries had the lowest percentage of non-employer SMEs that were majority-led by ethnic minorities (0.4%)

2. Things you need to know

What the data measures

The data shows the percentage of UK small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are led by a majority of people from:

  • an ethnic minority (excluding White minorities)
  • the White ethnic group

Businesses are defined as ‘ethnic minority-led’ if 50% or more of their management team are from ethnic minorities, or if a person from an ethnic minority is in sole control of the business.

Data is shown for:

  • SME employers – those with between one and 249 employees
  • SME non-employers – those with no employees, and unregistered businesses

Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place, so some totals may not add up to 100%.

Not included in the data

The data does not cover businesses with 250 or more employees, or businesses in the public sector.

Businesses that are not majority-led by people from an ethnic minority may still have some leaders from an ethnic minority background, but this is not shown in the figures.

The ethnic groups used in the data

Data is shown for 2 aggregated ethnic groups:

  • White – including White British and White ethnic minorities
  • Other – all other ethnic groups

This is because the number of people surveyed was too small to make any reliable conclusions about any of the 18 ethnic groups or 5 aggregated groups.

Ethnicity was unknown for 9.3% of SME employers and 8.5% of SME non-employers.

Methodology

Read the detailed methodology document for the data on this page.

In the data file

See download the data for data for 2015 to 2019.

The figures in the download file may differ from those published in the Small Business Survey due to revisions made every year.

3. By ethnicity and area (SMEs with employees)

Number and percentage of SME employers that are majority led by those from an ethnic minority, White ethnic group, or unknown, by country
White Other than White Unknown
UK Nation White Percentage White Number Other than White Percentage Other than White Number Unknown Percentage Unknown Number
UK 85.6 1,199,805 5.1 71,467 9.3 130,993
England 85.2 1,034,692 5.4 65,707 9.3 113,481
Scotland 85.2 82,262 4.3 4,178 10.4 10,062
Wales 89.9 50,721 1.5 834 8.6 4,875
Northern Ireland 90.7 31,750 2.1 732 7.2 2,534

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and area (SMEs with employees)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and area (SMEs with employees)’ (CSV)

Summary of Leadership of small and medium enterprises By ethnicity and area (SMEs with employees) Summary

The data shows that in 2019:

  • 5.1% of UK small and medium enterprise (SME) employers were majority-led by ethnic minorities (excluding White minorities)
  • 85.6% of SME employers were majority-led by White people, and 9.3% had leadership teams whose ethnicity was unknown
  • SME employers that were majority-led by ethnic minorities were more common in England (5.4%) and Scotland (4.3%) than in Northern Ireland (2.1%) or Wales (1.5%)

4. By ethnicity and area (SMEs without employees)

Number and percentage of SME non-employers that are majority led by those from an ethnic minority, White ethnic group, or unknown, by country
White Other than White Unknown
UK Nation White % White Number Other than White % Other than White Number Unknown % Unknown Number
UK 87.8 3,913,298 3.8 167,265 8.5 378,942
England 87.8 3,483,083 4.0 160,697 8.2 324,673
Scotland 85.6 202,822 2.7 6,366 11.8 27,892
Wales 91.2 150,925 0.0 0 8.8 14,584
Northern Ireland 86.8 77,146 0.4 379 12.8 11,381

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and area (SMEs without employees)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and area (SMEs without employees)’ (CSV)

Summary of Leadership of small and medium enterprises By ethnicity and area (SMEs without employees) Summary

The data shows that:

  • 3.8% of UK SMEs with no employees were majority-led by people from an ethnic minority (excluding White minorities)
  • 87.8% of SME non-employers were majority-led by White people, and 8.5% had leadership teams where ethnicity was unknown
  • SME non-employers that were majority-led by ethnic minorities were more common in England (4.0%) than in Scotland (2.7%), Northern Ireland or Wales (both less than 0.5%)
  • SME non-employers that were majority-led by White people were more common in Wales (91.2%) than in England (87.8%), Northern Ireland (86.8%) or Scotland (85.6%)

5. By ethnicity and sector (SMEs with employees)

Number and percentage of SME employers that are majority led by those from an ethnic minority, White ethnic group, or unknown, by sector
White Other than White Unknown
Sector White Percentage White Number Other than White Percentage Other than White Number Unknown Percentage Unknown Number
All 85.6 1,199,805 5.1 71,467 9.3 130,993
ABDE. Agriculture & utilities 94.4 57,012 0.1 83 5.5 3,293
C. Manufacturing 93.6 81,162 2.8 2,453 3.6 3,109
F. Construction 91.6 161,587 4.2 7,334 4.2 7,417
G. Retail & wholesale 87.9 211,779 5.4 12,940 6.7 16,128
H. Transport & storage 91.1 45,344 3.3 1,659 5.5 2,744
I. Accommodation & food service 82.8 111,768 6.7 8,983 10.5 14,216
J. Information & communication 82.7 70,879 7.9 6,761 9.4 8,093
KL. Financial & real estate 86.6 59,403 6.6 4,508 6.8 4,665
M. Professional & scientific 87.8 173,003 4.9 9,650 7.3 14,356
N. Administrative services 86.2 109,874 5.6 7,144 8.2 10,510
P. Education 73.4 14,646 4.5 898 22.1 4,405
Q. Health and social care 62.8 36,938 8.2 4,798 29.0 17,052
R. Arts & entertainment 73.2 19,727 4.7 1,272 22.1 5,960
S. Other services 67.7 46,032 4.3 2,954 27.9 18,979

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and sector (SMEs with employees)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and sector (SMEs with employees)’ (CSV)

Summary of Leadership of small and medium enterprises By ethnicity and sector (SMEs with employees) Summary

The data shows that:

  • SME employers that were majority-led by ethnic minorities were most common in health (8.2%), and information and communication (7.9%)
  • they were least common in agriculture and utilities (0.1%), and manufacturing (2.8%)
  • SME employers that were majority-led by White people were most common in agriculture and utilities (94.4%), manufacturing (93.6%), construction (91.6%), and transport and storage (91.1%)
  • ethnicity was unknown for a large percentage of businesses in the education (22.1%), health and social care (29.0%), arts and entertainment (22.1%), and accommodation and food sectors (10.5%)

6. By ethnicity and sector (SMEs without employees)

Number and percentage of SME non-employers that are majority led by those from an ethnic minority, White ethnic group, or unknown, by sector
White Other than White Unknown
Sector White Percentage White Number Other than White Percentage Other than White Number Unknown Percentage Unknown Number
All 87.8 3,913,298 3.8 167,265 8.5 378,942
ABDE. Agriculture & utilities 91.6 122,052 1.2 1,575 7.3 9,683
C. Manufacturing 93.1 174,914 2.5 4,781 4.3 8,114
F. Construction 90.9 782,839 2.3 20,087 6.7 58,016
G. Retail & wholesale 86.4 263,323 7.8 23,633 5.9 17,936
H. Transport & storage 90.6 281,018 0.4 1,236 9.0 27,763
I. Accommodation & food service 83.4 55,038 5.1 3,332 11.5 7,601
J. Information & communication 86.4 244,917 7.5 21,177 6.1 17,348
KL. Financial & real estate 92.2 124,360 3.1 4,248 4.7 6,275
M. Professional & scientific 91.7 614,632 3.6 24,234 4.6 31,137
N. Administrative services 90.0 344,896 4.8 18,477 5.1 19,724
P. Education 84.2 241,453 1.4 3,896 14.4 41,309
Q. Health and social care 79.2 238,620 8.2 24,703 12.6 37,837
R. Arts & entertainment 83.4 219,045 1.8 4,682 14.8 38,909
S. Other services 76.2 207,227 3.4 9,197 20.4 55,440

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and sector (SMEs without employees)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and sector (SMEs without employees)’ (CSV)

Summary of Leadership of small and medium enterprises By ethnicity and sector (SMEs without employees) Summary

The data shows that:

  • non-employer SMEs that were majority-led by ethnic minorities were most common in health (8.2%), retail and wholesale (7.8%), and information and communication (7.5%)
  • non-employer SMEs that were majority-led by ethnic minorities were least common in transport and storage (less than 0.5%)
  • ethnicity was unknown for a large percentage of businesses in the education (14.4%), health and social care (12.6%), arts and entertainment (14.8%), and accommodation and food sectors (11.5%)

7. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Note on corrections or updates

We have included estimates from the 2015 and 2016 survey here for the first time, available to download. This means there are now estimates available for five years, 2015 to 2019.

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The purpose of the Longitudinal Small Business Survey is to find out about the performance and behaviours of small and medium enterprises in the UK.

8. Download the data

Leadership of SMEs - Spreadsheet (csv) 146 KB

This file contains the following: Measure, Ethnicity, Ethnicity type, Time, Time type, Age, Age bracket type, Employer / non-employer, UK Nation, Sector, Value, Value type, Value note, Denominator, Numerator