Leadership of small and medium enterprises

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2018, 5.4% of small and medium enterprise (SME) employers were led by a majority of people from an ethnic minority (excluding White minorities)
  • the accommodation and food services sector had the highest percentage of ethnic minority-led SME employers
  • the agriculture and utilities, manufacturing, and construction sectors had the lowest percentage of ethnic minority-led SME employers
  • Northern Ireland was the country with the highest percentage of White-led SME employers
  • in 2018, 4.4% of SMEs with no employees were majority led by those from an ethnic minority
  • the agriculture and utilities, construction, and transport and storage industries had the lowest percentage of ethnic minority-led non-employer SMEs
  • England had the highest percentage of all ethnic minority-led non-employer SMEs
Things you need to know

The data is from the Longitudinal Small Business Survey, which is an annual telephone survey of UK small and medium enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are businesses with fewer than 250 employees.

Survey respondents can be the owners or senior decision makers of the business, or someone doing it on their behalf. The survey includes a question about the ethnicity of the business’ owners or leadership team.

The term ‘majority led’ refers to the ethnic make up of the business’s leadership team (including the owners). For example, a business is majority led by the White ethnic group if more than half of the leadership team is White. If at least half a leadership team is from an ethnic minority (excluding White minorities), then the business is led by ethnic minorities.

Businesses that are not majority led by those from an ethnic minority may still have some leaders from an ethnic minority background, but this is not reflected in these figures.

The ethnicity of leadership teams is unknown for 8.0% of SME employers and 6.4% of SME non-employers.

Definitions

The Small Business Survey uses the term ‘human health’ instead of health and social care, and ‘primary sector’ instead of agriculture and utilities.

Professional and scientific industries include management consultancy, architecture, engineering and accountancy.

Other services include personal services, such as hairdressing and beauty, funeral directors and dry cleaning.

What the data measures

The figures show the percentage of UK small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that:

  • are majority led by people from an ethnic minority (excluding White minorities)
  • are majority led by people from the White ethnic group
  • have leadership teams where ethnicity is unknown

Businesses are classified as ‘majority led’ by people from an ethnic minority if 50% or more of their leadership are from ethnic minorities (excluding White minorities). Businesses are classified as majority led by the White ethnic group if more than 50% of their leadership are from the White ethnic group.

The data is presented for SME employers (those with between one and 249 employees) and SME non-employers (those with no employees) separately.

The ethnic categories used in this data

This measure uses broad ethnic categories to enable large enough numbers for analysis.

The 2 broad ethnic groups are:

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

2. By ethnicity and area (employers)

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
England 86.4 1,033,308 5.9 70,834 7.7 92,383
Northern Ireland 91.1 32,347 1.2 415 7.7 2,738
Scotland 87.6 83,552 1.8 1,677 10.7 10,176
UK 86.6 1,197,070 5.4 73,928 8.0 110,777
Wales 88.1 47,863 1.8 1,002 10.1 5,480

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and area (employers)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and area (employers)’ (CSV)

Summary of Leadership of small and medium enterprises By ethnicity and area (employers) Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018, 5.4% of small and medium enterprise (SME) employers were majority led by ethnic minorities (excluding White minorities)
  • 86.6% of SME employers were majority led by White people and 8.0% had leadership teams were ethnicity was unknown
  • SME employers that were majority led by ethnic minorities were more common in England (5.9%) than in Scotland (1.8%), Wales (1.8%) or Northern Ireland (1.2%)
  • SME employers that were majority led by White people were more common in Northern Ireland (91.1%) than in Wales (88.1%), Scotland (87.6%) or England (86.4%)

3. By ethnicity and area (non-employers)

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 Percentage White Number Other than White Percentage Other than White Number Unknown Percentage Unknown Number
England 88.7 3,370,649 5.0 188,199 6.4 242,777
Northern Ireland 88.9 86,314 0.5 508 10.6 10,253
Scotland 93.7 220,701 0.4 900 5.9 13,854
UK 89.1 3,813,745 4.4 189,606 6.4 274,874
Wales 94.5 136,080 0.0 0 5.5 7,990

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and area (non-employers)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and area (non-employers)’ (CSV)

Summary of Leadership of small and medium enterprises By ethnicity and area (non-employers) Summary

This data shows that:

  • in 2018, 4.4% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with no employees were majority led by those from an ethnic minority (excluding White minorities)
  • 89.1% of SME non-employers were majority led by White people and 6.4% had leadership teams where ethnicity was unknown
  • SME non-employers that were majority led by ethnic minorities were more common in England (5.0%), than in Northern Ireland (0.5%), Scotland or Wales (both less than 0.5%)
  • SME non-employers that were majority led by White people were more common in Wales (94.5%) than in Scotland (93.7%), Northern Ireland (88.9%) or England (88.7%)

4. By ethnicity and sector (employers)

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 86.6 1,197,070 5.4 73,928 8.0 110,777
ABDE. Agriculture & utilities 95.0 57,673 0.2 103 4.8 2,924
C. Manufacturing 92.2 80,646 3.2 2,788 4.7 4,077
F. Construction 94.4 160,362 3.3 5,570 2.3 3,938
G. Retail & wholesale 88.3 212,450 7.4 17,734 4.4 10,551
H. Transport & storage 90.3 42,885 4.7 2,239 4.9 2,346
I. Accommodation & food service 82.1 108,902 7.9 10,446 10.0 13,288
J. Information & communication 88.3 73,611 5.8 4,844 5.8 4,871
KL. Financial & real estate 88.0 58,126 5.2 3,449 6.8 4,490
M. Professional & scientific 88.5 172,773 3.7 7,312 7.8 15,154
N. Administrative services 85.9 106,310 7.1 8,724 7.0 8,691
P. Education 72.5 14,227 7.4 1,450 20.2 3,958
Q. Health and social care 67.6 40,807 9.3 5,595 23.1 13,932
R. Arts & entertainment 73.5 19,423 4.4 1,164 22.1 5,834
S. Other services 71.8 48,873 3.7 2,486 24.6 16,751

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and sector (employers)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and sector (employers)’ (CSV)

Summary of Leadership of small and medium enterprises By ethnicity and sector (employers) Summary

This data shows that:

  • ethnic minority-led SME employers were most common in accommodation and food services (7.9%)
  • ethnic minority-led SME employers were least common in the agriculture and utilities (0.2%) and manufacturing (3.2%) sectors
  • White-led SME employers were most common in the agriculture and utilities (95.0%), construction (94.4%), manufacturing (92.2%), and transport and storage (90.3%) sectors
  • meaningful conclusions cannot be made about education, health and social care, arts and entertainment, and other services due to the large percentage of businesses where ethnicity is unknown

5. By ethnicity and sector (non-employers)

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 89.1 3,813,745 4.4 189,606 6.4 274,874
ABDE. Agriculture & utilities 94.6 123,847 0.9 1,135 4.5 5,952
C. Manufacturing 88.8 178,767 4.0 7,981 7.2 14,582
F. Construction 92.9 762,748 2.0 16,743 5.1 41,954
G. Retail & wholesale 83.8 262,973 12.3 38,510 4.0 12,468
H. Transport & storage 95.6 265,385 2.5 6,837 2.0 5,494
I. Accommodation & food service 83.0 43,759 5.4 2,864 11.5 6,081
J. Information & communication 88.4 246,802 5.2 14,502 6.4 17,811
KL. Financial & real estate 91.6 124,642 4.8 6,538 3.6 4,915
M. Professional & scientific 90.6 562,148 4.6 28,731 4.8 29,875
N. Administrative services 87.9 321,752 5.5 20,222 6.6 24,232
P. Education 88.8 234,092 3.9 10,227 7.4 19,396
Q. Health and social care 85.1 254,606 5.4 16,174 9.5 28,540
R. Arts & entertainment 85.7 213,751 2.5 6,251 11.8 29,528
S. Other services 82.5 218,937 4.8 12,747 12.7 33,716

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and sector (non-employers)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and sector (non-employers)’ (CSV)

Summary of Leadership of small and medium enterprises By ethnicity and sector (non-employers) Summary

This data shows that:

  • non-employer SMEs that were majority led by ethnic minorities were most common in retail and wholesale (12.3%)
  • non-employer SMEs that were majority led by ethnic minorities were least common in the agriculture and utilities (0.9%), construction (2.0%), and transport and storage (2.5%) sectors
  • meaningful conclusions cannot be made about accommodation and food services, arts and entertainment, and other services due to the large percentage of businesses where ethnicity is unknown

6. Methodology

The 2018 Longitudinal Small Business Survey is a survey of 15,000 UK small business owners and managers, commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Information is collected by telephone interview, and the results are weighted by business size, UK nation and sector.

Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them reflect the 2018 BEIS Business Population Estimates and improve their accuracy.

Small and medium enterprise (SME) employers were oversampled to get sample sizes that allowed meaningful analysis, so businesses with no employees were weighted more heavily to compensate. This is why SME employers and SME non-employers are presented separately.

Statistically significant differences are identified using a one sample t test.

Rounding

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place; percentages may not add up to 100% as a result.

Related publications

Small Business Survey reports

Business population estimates

Quality and methodology information

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

The 2018 dataset includes revisions to the figures for 2015 to 2017. The data presented in this website is focussed on 2018, but the revised 2017 figures are given in the dataset that is available for download from here.

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 (SMEs) in the UK.

Secondary source

Type of data

Administrative and survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

Business population estimates for the UK and regions provides the only official estimate of the total number of private sector businesses in the UK at the start of each year. The estimates are used extensively by government, the public, public bodies and businesses to analyse the scale, structure and significance of the total business population in the UK and to monitor change over time.

8. Download the data

Leadership of Small and Medium Enterprises - Spreadsheet - Spreadsheet (csv) 58 KB

This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, year, value, denominator, numerator.