Women in Retail, the organisation to encourage equality and empowerment in the sector, and management consultancy firm Elixirr have conducted a study into gender diversity across 44 different retailers, interviewing more than 70 senior executives.
The study, entitled The Commercial Advantage of more Women in the Boardroom, revealed that 60% of employees and 85% of customers are women, however just 20% of executive teams and 10% of executive boards are women.
Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, says: “Companies harnessing the power of diversity throughout their business, from the bottom to the top, do better. So, why is it still that not enough women in retail are able to climb the ladder? With the retail industry undergoing significant structural change at a pace never seen before, the focus of this report has never been so pressing. Change will not happen unless we come together as an industry, recognise more needs to be done and take effective action.”
The report states that “large organisations can only survive in the long-term if they find a way to really understand their customers, and put them at the heart of everything they do. How can any organisation whose customer-base is predominantly female achieve this when only 20% of their executive team are women?”
For retailers to shift the dial, the report recommends that leadership teams first commit to the three priority actions to achieving inclusivity, which it explains “will start to lead towards achieving empowerment and flexibility.”
The report encourages companies to; set gender balance targets, and continue to measure and report on them; identify and sponsor emerging female talent; and, adapt the operating model to enable flexible working and use technology to challenge presenteeism.
Among the retailers taking part in the study were jewellery brands Swarovski and Stella & Dot.