Vince Cable has asked the seven top companies with all-male boards to explain what measures they are taking to hire female executives.
Miners Antofagasta, Kazakhmys (LSE: KAZ.L - news) and Xstrata (Other OTC: XSRAF - news) , chemicals company Croda, commodities giant Glencore, business group Melrose and natural resources firm Vedanta received the letter.
Mr Cable, who wants no all-male FTSE 100 boards by 2015, said he was "determined" that British companies become more diverse.
"This is not about equality, this is about good governance and good business," he said.
"The international evidence supports this: diverse boards are better boards benefiting from fresh perspectives, opinions and new ideas which ultimately serve the company's long term interests."
It comes as mining company Randgold Resources announced that Jeanine Mabunda Lioko - a former minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo - had joined its board as a non-executive director.
Mr Cable added: "Successful modern companies learn to adapt and survive and doing nothing is not an option anymore.
"We've seen examples again today that this can be done and I am determined to see further action."
In November the Government welcomed the European Commission's decision not to impose mandatory quotas for women on boards.
At the time Mr Cable insisted the UK's "business-led, self-regulatory model" was the best approach.
This system was outlined in 2011 by Lord Davies who published an independent review into women on boards.
He urged FTSE 100 companies to aim for a minimum of 25% female board member representation by 2015 and FTSE 350 businesses to set "challenging" diversity targets.
Since the report was published the number all-male boards in the FTSE 100 has fallen from 21 to the seven that received Mr Cable's letter.
Lord Davies will publish an annual progress report on the number of women reaching the boards of the UK's top companies in the spring of 2013.
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