Last reviewed 29 July 2022

A new report suggests that there is still a long way to go until the retail industry truly reflects the communities it serves, with women still under-represented at most senior levels, a lack of ethnic diversity among boards and executive committees and a lack of black leaders across the sector.

Produced by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and The MBS Group, Tracking Progress on Diversity and Inclusion in UK Retail shows that over a third of retailers have all-white boards, or all-white executive committees, and that women account for fewer than 40% of the members of boards and executive committees.

The report, which is available at https://brc.org.uk/media/680277/mbs-brc-diversity-in-retail-2022.pdf, argues that achieving diversity through an inclusive business should be a commercial imperative for retailers.

BRC chief executive, Helen Dickinson, said: β€œIt is time to embed inclusion into the culture of every business. Nearly 80 leading retailers have come together to sign our D&I Charter promising every individual the opportunity to prosper. The will is clearly there but the industry must double down to drive the diversity outcomes we aspire to.”

The report also looks at what barriers retailers face when trying to improve diversity in their businesses including lack of data, insufficient resources and competing priorities.

It then examines best practices and measures that can adopted to take the industry forward. For example, retailers need to customise their D&I strategies with insights from, and engagement with, employees as well as investing in more comprehensive data collection and developing diverse talent pipelines while setting targets and measuring progress.

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

Employers should ensure they pro-actively and continually review their working practices to ensure they are creating a workplace culture which is inclusive for all.

As such, learning and development personnel should work in collaboration with other HR leaders and relevant experts to identify areas which require further understanding and awareness, and fill these gaps to create a culture which facilitates equality, individuality and acceptance at all levels.

Continuous training opportunities, alongside a robust diversity and inclusion policy, can help.

Supporting initiatives may also include a zero-tolerance stance against any form of bullying, discrimination and harassment, with further training, policies and internal communications to reflect this.