• Thursday, August 11, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

White men still dominate senior positions across British retail: Report

Women are still underrepresented at the most senior levels.

Representational image (iStock)

By: Pramod Thomas

A new survey has revealed that British retailers need to work more to improve diversity at the top of their businesses as white men still dominate senior positions.

The survey by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and executive search firm The MBS Group has said that over a third of retailers have all-white boards or executive committees.

Out of more than 200 businesses studied, only 14 have female chairs and 21 have female chief executive officers or chief financial officers. Also, women accounting for less than 40 per cent of all board members, executives and senior managers.

Some 76 companies including Tesco, Greggs, Boots and Burberry Group have signed up to the BRC Diversity and Inclusion Charter, up from around 45 retailers last year. The charter will track the progress retailers make on a number of key metrics, such as eliminating bias in recruitment processes.

“Women are still underrepresented at the most senior levels, ethnic diversity urgently needs addressing, and areas such as social mobility, disability and age are still not sufficiently prioritized in strategies,” said Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC.

According to the report, there is limited ethnic diversity on boards and executive committees, and a lack of black people occupying leadership positions across retailers.

Meanwhile, the proportion of companies adopting a diversity and inclusion strategy increased from 76 per cent in 2021 to 91 per cent. In three-quarters of UK retailers top executives are leading on diversity and inclusion strategies compared to half in 2021.

However, the percentage of women in senior management fell from 37 per cent last year to 35 per cent now. Ethnic minority representation at retailers’ top three leadership levels has also improved slightly around 10 per cent mark.

Elliott Goldstein, managing partner at The MBS Group, complained that progress on initiating diversity and inclusion plans is not moving fast enough. He added that retailers must work harder to reflect the communities they serve.

Increased scrutiny from consumers and staff and investment decisions driven by environmental, social and governance considerations are factors driving the adoption of diversity and inclusion plans.

The report pointed out factors including inflation, cost of living concerns, pandemic recovery and workforce shortages risk diverting corporate focus from diversity and inclusion.

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