The business secretary, Vince Cable, has backed a call by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations for more senior figures from the voluntary sector to join the boards of private firms.
Speaking at a discussion last night, organised by the charity Oasis, the NCVO's chief executive, Sir Stuart Etherington, said there were only two voluntary sector figures on the boards of plcs: Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children, and Dame Mary Marsh, director of the Clore Social Leadership Programme and former chief executive of the NSPCC.
"This has to change," said Etherington, who said the NCVO would be campaigning on the issue. "We should encourage more people from the voluntary sector to join the boards."
He said this would be an important way to encourage responsible capitalism, the theme of last night's event.
Cable said at the event that he supported the idea and that it was important for company boards to become more diverse.
Etherington told the event that credit rating agencies should be run on a not-for-profit basis and one should be set up this way to challenge the existing agencies.
"The credit rating agencies were making money from rating things they didn't understand," he said. "I'd like to see credit rating done by a charitable group or a social enterprise."