The honours committee is calling on the charity sector to nominate more people from black and ethnic minority groups for official honours.
More than 30 voluntary and charitable organisations attended an event at 10 Downing Street on Friday hosted by Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the civil service and chair of the main honours committee.
Kerslake said the aim of the meeting was to encourage more honours nominations for women, people from ethnic minorities and people from certain regions of the UK.
"We feel our honours system has a lot of support and is held in very high regard," he said. "But we are not getting enough nominations from particular parts of the population."
Kerslake said that the honours committee wanted to encourage more female nominations and nominations for people from regions such as Yorkshire and Humberside, which were under-represented compared with London and south-east England.
Kerslake said he wanted to see an increase in the number of nominations for people from black and ethnic minorities, which account for only 6 per cent of nominations.
"We are concerned about the number of awards we are making to people from black and ethnic minority groups," said Kerslake.
He said the voluntary and charitable organisations that attended the meeting were "very sympathetic" to the message that more nominations needed to come from minority groups.
Kerslake said the honours committee was appealing to the voluntary sector because about three-quarters of honours go to the sector. "They are often the people making the nominations," he said.