• 55 retailers pledge to improve Diversity & Inclusion practices
  • Flagship report shows there is much to be done to improve Diversity & Inclusion in retail
  • BRC’s Diversity & Inclusion Charter to tackle diversity barriers

 Over 50 leading retailers have 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.

Signatories pledge 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
  • Ensure all line managers are responsible for supporting equity in the workplace

The charter comes at a pivotal moment, with a report launched today 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 UK retail, 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. Key findings include:

  • 6% of Board, 32.0% of Executive Boards and 37.5% of Direct Reports to Board are women. But more than one in five retailers have no women at all on their Boards, and 15% have no women on their executive committees.
  • 69% of retailers have an all-male CEO, CFO and Chair. Only 9.6% of the industry’s CEOs are women and only 4.3% of the sector’s Chairs are women.
  • Retail has very few black or ethnic minority leaders: 4.5% of Boards, 5.8% of Executive Committees, 6.0% of Direct Reports to Boards are from an ethnic minority background, compared to 12.5% of the UK population.
  • 84% of retailers say that D&I is a priority, but less than half (49%) of retail employees agree that D&I is sufficiently high up their employers’ agenda.
  • 100% of D&I strategies look at gender, 90% look at race and ethnicity and 68% look at LGBTQ+. Only half look at disability, and less than a quarter cover social mobility (20%) or age (23%).

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.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:
“Retail revolves around the customer, and to serve the needs of a diverse country, we need a diversity of ideas, experiences and backgrounds across our businesses. Five years ago, the BRC set out a vision for Better Jobs and aspired for retail to be a Diversity and Inclusion leader. The data collected by PwC and The MBS Group in our Diversity and Inclusion in retail report shows there is so much more to be done if we are to reach this goal.

“Nonetheless, 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. 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.”

Elliott Goldstein, Managing Partner at The MBS Group, said:
“Retail leadership continues to be unrepresentative of the UK population in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, LGBTQ+, disability and social mobility. Given that women make up 64.3% of the retail workforce, and are responsible for up to 80% of purchasing decisions, it should not be the case in 2021 that women are under-represented at all leadership levels – including in the top role, where under 10% of CEOs are women. One in 5 retailers still have all male boards, and 15% of Executive Committees have no women. Likewise, the level of ethnic minority representation amongst the industry’s leaders falls well short compared to the wider population; our research shows that 81% of the largest retailers have all white boards – and 68% have no ethnic minority leadership on their Executive Committees. Whilst undoubtedly significant change has been driven in the last decade, there is still a long way to go.”

Katy Bennett, Director, Inclusion and Diversity Consulting, PwC UK, said:
“It’s very encouraging to see so many retail companies committed to improving their diversity and inclusion at a time when issues surrounding gender, race and ethnicity in the workplace are in sharp focus. There is still work to do to ensure workplaces are inclusive for all and that discriminatory behaviour is called out and addressed. The retail industry can work towards achieving a better representation for women and those from diverse backgrounds, especially at the most senior levels. A focus on ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities to progress and for companies to better reflect their customers, brings benefits to business as well as to society.”