Retailers told to ‘double down’ on diversity due to slow progress

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Report says progress on improving diversity and inclusion at senior levels in the UK retail sector is ‘worryingly slow’ with white men still dominating positions of management.

In addition to the continued under-representation of women in leadership positions, the sector roles overview identified limited ethnic diversity on boards and executive committees, and a lack of black people in leadership positions. management in general.

Research released Wednesday by the British Retail Consortium and MBS Group found that more than a third of retailers have all-white boards or executive committees, with women making up less than 40% of all board members. administration, executives and senior managers across the sector.

The report showed some signs of improvement since the assessment was launched in 2021, with the proportion of companies adopting a diversity and inclusion strategy increasing from 76% to 91%.

Managing directors now also take the lead on diversity and inclusion strategies at three-quarters of retailers, up from half in 2021.

However, while the proportion of women on the board of directors and the executive committee has increased slightly since 2021, it still represents just under a third of the members in both cases.

The percentage of women in senior management rose from 37% to 35% over the period.

There has also been a slight increase in the representation of ethnic minorities at all three levels of retailer management, but this remains around the 10% mark.

Research has found that retail meeting rooms are still dominated by white men (Alamy)

He said: “Progress towards representation is worryingly slow, with the top positions in the industry still dominated by white men and fewer women in the pipeline below the executive committee (level).

“In our current retail landscape, retailers need to work harder to reflect the communities they serve. The time for change was yesterday.

The report identified a number of factors driving the adoption of diversity and inclusion plans, such as increased consumer and staff scrutiny and self-motivated investment decisions. environmental, social and governance.

But adverse business conditions caused by factors such as inflation, cost-of-living concerns, pandemic recovery and labor shortages risk distracting companies from diversity and diversity. inclusion, according to the report.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson pointed to the commitment of nearly 80 of the UK’s largest retailers to the consortium’s diversity and inclusion charter as evidence of a desire for change in the industry.

“But the industry needs to work harder to deliver the diversity outcomes we want,” she added. “We all know the challenges, we all want to act, so…now we need to mobilize and focus on delivering results.”

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