New report reveals poor female and minority representation in British retailers

The male hand with scissors cuts word Equality from Inequality
The male hand with scissors cuts word Equality from Inequality

A NEW report has identified poor female and minority representation among the leadership of retailers in the UK.

The report by British Retail Consortium, PWC and MBS Group report has urged more than 55 retailers to pledge to improve diversity and inclusion practices, reported The Times. 

An analysis of more than 200 companies and their employees revealed a range of problems facing the sector, including workers’ exposure to racism and gender discrimination, the report released on Thursday (25) revealed.

While the retailers have surpassed its 33 per cent female representation target at direct reports level, they had not on the board or executive committee levels.

The report also found that 69 per cent of retailers have an all-male chief executive, chief financial officer and chair triumvirate. Only 9.6 per cent of the industry’s chief executives and just 4.3 per cent of its chairs are women.

According to The Times report, retail sector has very few black or ethnic minority leaders.

“Just 4.5 per cent of boards, 5.8 per cent of executive committees and 6 per cent of direct reports to boards had leaders from an ethnic minority background, despite the group making up 12.5 per cent of the UK population,” the report said.

“About 81 per cent of retailers have no non-executive directors from minority backgrounds and 68 per cent have all-white executive committees.”

Elliott Goldstein, managing partner at the MBS Group, said that retail leadership continues to be unrepresentative of the UK population in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, LGBTQ+, disability and social mobility.

Just 34 per cent of employees interviewed by PWC said they were satisfied with their organisation’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement, the report added.

One in four retail workers from an ethnic minority background has experienced or witnessed racism in the workplace, the report found, with 13 per cent of female retail employees having experienced or seen sexual harassment at work, and 14 per cent having experienced gender discrimination.

While responding to the report, that British Retail Consortium (BRC) said it would monitor the commitments of more than 55 retailers — including Waitrose, B&Q, Pret a Manger, Boots and John Lewis — which have since signed up to a diversity and inclusion charter.

They have pledged to remove bias from the recruitment process, collect better diversity data, improve career progression and appoint executives to address inequalities, The Times report said.

“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,” Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, told The Times.

“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.”

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