Over 50 UK retailers led by BRC pledge to improve diversity, inclusion

Over 50 leading retailers recently 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. Businesses will focus on oversight, recruitment, progression, reporting, inclusivity and responsibility, BRC said in a statement.

The signatories pledged 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 and ensure all line managers are responsible for supporting equity in the workplace.

A report was launched recently by the BRC, The MBS Group and PwC showing more work is needed to create a fully diverse and equitable retail industry. This flagship report reveals the current state of diversity and inclusion in the UK retail sector, 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, and we commit to continuing to track and publish regular updates on progress made.

The data highlights how much work is still to be done.

Six per cent of board, 32 per cent of executive boards and 37.5 per cent of direct reports to board are women, the report found. But more than one in five retailers have no women at all on their boards, and 15 per cent have no women on their executive committees.

Sixty nine per cent of retailers have an all-male chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer and chair. Only 9.6 per cent of the industry’s CEOs are women and only 4.3 per cent of the sector’s chairs are women.

Retail has very few black or ethnic minority leaders: 4.5 per cent of boards, 5.8 per cent of executive committees, 6 per cent of direct reports to boards are from an ethnic minority background, compared to 12.5 per cent of the UK population.

Eighty four per cent of retailers say that D&I is a priority, but less than half (49 per cent) of retail employees agree that D&I is sufficiently high up their employers’ agenda.

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

The report also looks at what barriers retailers face in implementing diversity, such as the lack of data and senior buy-in, and it also looks at inclusion practices and measures that can adopted to take the industry forward.

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