After signing up for a charter on diversity and inclusion (D&I), fifty-five UK retailers pledged to “decisive actions to improve diversity practices within the retail industry.”
The retailers sign the charter and agree to appoint diversity and inclusion officers. Enhancing recruitment practices to eliminate bias. Supporting career progression and opportunity for all. Collecting and contributing data about diversity. A respectful and inclusive workplace environment. Supporting equity in the workplace by ensuring that all line managers are accountable.
Ann Summers and Burberry are among the fashion retailers that have signed up for the pledge.
This follows Thursday’s publication of a landmark report by PwC, The MBS Group, and BRC that concluded “more work is required to create an fully diverse and fair retail industry.”
According to the report, 32.6 percent of boards, 37.5 percent of executive boards, and 37.5% of direct reporting to boards are made up of women. However, more than one fifth of retailers do not have any women on their boards. And 15% of their executive committees are entirely male.
The study also revealed that 69% of retailers employ a male trio: chief financial officer, CEO and chair. Only 9.6 percent are women in the industry’s top leadership positions, and only 4.3% of sector chairs are female.
To address inequalities, more effort is needed
The report also found that retailers have very few ethnic minority leaders. Only 4.5 percent of retail boards are black, and 5.8 percent of executive boards. Additionally, only 6 percent of direct reporting to boards comes from ethnic minorities, as opposed to 12.5 percent for the UK.
However, 84% of retailers stated that D&I was a top priority in their business. But, only 49 percent of retail employees believe that D&I has been sufficiently high on their employer’s agenda.
Helen Dickinson, CEO of BRC, stated that there is still much to be done to make the retail sector a “diversity – and inclusion leader”, but she said she is confident about the future.
In her report, she stated that “The first step in achieving change is acknowledging and understanding where the challenges are.” We must now act. It is a great thing to see so many retailers make a commitment to improve their businesses and provide equal opportunities for everyone. I look forward to seeing what the future holds, once more diversity and inclusion are achieved.”
BRC stated that it will continue to monitor and publish periodic updates on industry progress.