THE chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland has admitted the business is still “too white and too male”, with a lack of ethnic diversity that does not reflect its customers.

Ross McEwan said while the bank has made strides in promoting women into senior roles, it still has work to do to create a more ethnically diverse and balanced workforce. He added the bank, which is 72 per cent owned by the taxpayer, will reveal gender pay statistics next month, several months earlier than legislation requires.

The move has the potential to throw bank staff into conflict over discrepancies between male and female workers.

Speaking during a Radio Scotland interview, Mr McEwan revealed the bank has set a tougher target for gender equality across the business, and is working with outside groups in a bid to address diversity issues.

He said: “We have set ourselves the target of having initially 30 per cent of our top 700 executives as females by the end of 2020. We actually reached that target last year, so have changed the target to make it more difficult.”

The bank is now aiming for 40 per cent female representation right across the business by 2020, and focusing on creating balance in other particularly male- dominated areas.

He added: “Ethnicity is a big issue for this organisation. We need to be reflecting the types of people our customers are. Too white and too male is something that we’re now starting to concentrate on. It’s beyond the male and female. I think there are a lot of other areas we should be thinking about as well.”

Mr McEwan’s comments come in the same week data from diversity consultants Green Park showed 58 per cent of FTSE 100 boardrooms still have no ethnic minority representation.

It follows the Government-backed Parker Review, which found “disproportionately” low levels of diversity across UK boardrooms. It recommended one director of colour be appointed to each of Britain’s top company boards by 2021, and to each of their boards by 2024.

Similar recommendations on gender-based recruitment were made by the Davies review in 2015, saying women should make up one-third of every FTSE 100 boardroom by 2020.

A spokeswoman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scotland said: “It’s encouraging that RBS have recognised the issue. We agree that having a more ethnically diverse workforce will help them market to Scotland’s increasingly diverse population.

“There’s no shortage of skills. And given that ethnic minorities are twice as likely to be unemployed, there is a large potential workforce for businesses across Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

Emma Ritch, executive director of equality campaign organisation Engender, said: “Feminist leadership of nations, political parties, council chambers and organisations sees different decisions made on investment, on healthcare, and on the economy.

“Having women in positions of power changes what gets spent, and what gets prioritised.” She said a recent Engender review of 3,029 leadership roles in Scotland had revealed just 27 per cent were held by women.

“In some areas, women’s representation has gone backwards,” she added.

“We want all women to live their best lives, but mostly because having women around the table changes the conversation.

“We want to see not just women making decisions, but women making decisions who are alert to the different forces that shape men’s and women’s lives.”

Lynne Cadenhead, chairwoman of Women’s Enterprise Scotland, said: “Research consistently shows that achieving gender balance across all areas of business is imperative to gain diversity of thought and support business prosperity. “A study undertaken by The Herald last year in fact showed that Scotland’s FTSE 100 boardrooms were trailing in terms of gender diversity, in comparison to the progress the rest of the UK were making in this respect.

“Efforts need to be redoubled to ensure that boardrooms reflect the communities they seek to serve.”