On 14 June 2023, the BRC and MBS published their annual ‘Diversity and Inclusion in UK Retail ’ report which provides insight into the current state of D&I in the UK retail industry. Their survey (which covered 40% of retail workers in the UK), found that 93% of retailers surveyed recognise the benefits of diverse organisations and are investing in initiatives to promote inclusion. However, these initiatives are yet to translate into meaningful change.
Where is the retail sector now?
According to MBS:
- 30% of boards are all white (the FTSE 250 benchmark is 40% by the end of 2025).
- Only 13 Chairs, 27 CEOs and 14 CFOs are women in the UK’s 200 biggest retailers.
- There is a lack of disabled role models in senior positions.
- The impact of initiatives are not being felt across all levels.
- 66% of retailers have no specific targets in place to track progress.
How can organisations drive meaningful change?
Focus on collecting data and assessing it
, for example around returners after parental leave, the appointment, retention and promotion of different demographics and employee sentiment in engagement surveys. If the data highlights any issues, consider how to resolve these i.e. allowing more flexible working or providing training to resolve a drop in the number of women in senior positions.
Assess the impact of D&I strategies
to consider whether initiatives have produced the intended results. Going forward, focus on the activities that have had the biggest impact.
Build diverse talent pipelines
and have initiatives in place to drive up representation in specific areas.
Set targets to measure the impact of interventions.
Executives should be held to account on D&I progress. D&I metrics could be hard wired into senior leadership incentivisation so that leaders press colleagues to make a change.
Formaliseemployee resource groups to listen and engage with employees at all levels. Engage in events like International Women’s Day and Pride and have a calendar of inclusion events, such as guest speakers. Support resource groups by providing budgets, action plans and training.
Appoint dedicated D&I leaders
and invest in training for senior leaders.
Appoint people with different diversity characteristics to boards
. This may involve taking risks by appointing first time CEOs and Chairs, rather than proven candidates (who are often white men).
McKinsey has reported that executive teams featuring gender diversity are 25% more likely to outperform those that don’t, and teams with ethnic diversity are 36% more likely to outperform those without it.
Moreover, retailers that don’t prioritise and embrace D&I risk losing favour with the next generation of employees and future senior leaders and will likely face pressure from investors to ensure representation.