High Street

Over 50 retailers pledge to improve diversity

The news comes after the BRC, The MBS Group and PwC released a report that shows more work is needed to create a ‘fully diverse and equitable retail industry’

Over 50 retailers have signed up to a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) charter led by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and pledged to take “decisive action” to improve diversity practices across the retail industry.

The businesses said they will focus on oversight, recruitment, progression, reporting, inclusivity and responsibility. They pledge to:

  •  Appoint Diversity and Inclusion Executives
  •  Improve recruitment practices to remove bias
  •  Support career opportunity and progression for all
  • Collect and contribute data on diversity
  • Create a respectful and inclusive work environment
  •  Ensure all line managers are responsible for supporting equity in the workplace

The news comes after the BRC, The MBS Group and PwC released a report showing how more work is needed to create a “fully diverse and equitable retail industry”. The report reveals the current state of diversity and inclusion in UK retail, bringing together an analysis of diversity in senior leadership teams from The MBS Group; a look at the employee perspective from PwC; and a challenge to the industry from the BRC.

The report looks closely at different areas of diversity, including gender, race and ethnicity, LGBTQ+, disability, social mobility and age. By beginning to track progress in these areas, as well as highlighting examples of good practice, the report aims to “play a part in driving positive change in the sector”.

The BRC said the data highlights “how much work is still to be done”. Key findings include:

  • 32.6% of board, 32.0% of executive boards and 37.5% of direct reports to board are women. But more than one in five retailers have no women at all on their boards, and 15% have no women on their executive committees.

  • 69% of retailers have an all-male CEO, CFO and chair. Only 9.6% of the industry’s CEOs are women and only 4.3% of the sector’s chairs are women.

  • Retail has “very few” black or ethnic minority leaders: 4.5% of boards, 5.8% of executive committees, 6.0% of direct reports to boards are from an ethnic minority background, compared to 12.5% of the UK population.
  •  84% of retailers say that D&I is a priority, but less than half (49%) of retail employees agree that D&I is sufficiently high up their employers’ agenda.

  • 100% of D&I strategies look at gender, 90% look at race and ethnicity and 68% look at LGBTQ+. Only half look at disability, and less than a quarter cover social mobility (20%) or age (23%).

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retail revolves around the customer, and to serve the needs of a diverse country, we need a diversity of ideas, experiences and backgrounds across our businesses. Five years ago, the BRC set out a vision for Better Jobs and aspired for retail to be a Diversity and Inclusion leader. 

“The data collected by PwC and The MBS Group in our Diversity and Inclusion in retail report shows there is so much more to be done if we are to reach this goal.”

She added: “Nonetheless, I am confident about the road ahead. The first step to achieving change is acknowledgement and understanding of where the challenges lie. Now, we must act. I am proud to see so many retailers pledge to better their businesses and create equal opportunities for all and I am excited to see what the future holds once greater diversity and inclusion is achieved.”

The pledge has been signed by retailers such as Aldi, John Lewis Partnership, Kingfisher, The Co-operative Group and Starbucks. 

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