The Government has been urged to launch a review into racial barriers in the workplace after a new study found that only one in 16 top management posts were held by black, Asian and minority ethnic staff.
Business in the Community said race should be added to the UK Corporate Governance Code to ensure ethnic minorities progress into management positions at the same pace as the general working population.
One in 16 top management and one in 13 management positions are held by Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people, who make up a tenth of the total workforce, the research found.
Sandra Kerr of Business in the Community, said: "By 2051, one in five people in the UK will be from an ethnic minority background, representing a scale of consumer spending and political voting power that business and government alike cannot afford to ignore. The gap must not be allowed to widen further, but without action, little will change."
Three quarters of management positions held by BAME people are clustered in three sectors - banking & finance, distribution, hotels & restaurants; and public administration, education and health, said the report.
It was also found that most management positions within the energy and water, construction, legal, media and political sectors continue to be held by white people - mirroring the state of play in 2007.
Research found that the number of BAME people in top management positions has fallen from 95,023 to 73,378 in recent years.
There have been substantial drops in management positions held by BAME people across the East Midlands, North East and Yorkshire & Humber between 2007 and 2012, Business in the Community added.
Chuka Umunna, shadow business secretary, said: "It is unacceptable that there are still glass ceilings on the way to the boardroom. This report shows that past progress has gone into reverse, with the total number of senior managers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds falling over the last half-decade.
"Greater diversity in boardrooms adds to our competitiveness in a global marketplace. We need to see barriers removed so that senior management better reflects society at large and that all employees are able to reach their potential."
A government spokesman said: "It is only right that UK businesses look to use the widest talent pool available when recruiting for their boardrooms and senior management positions.
"Making sure that those who sit at the top tables of our companies are more diverse is not about political correctness, it makes business sense."