Follow us

Retail leadership “more diverse than ever” says new BRC report

Tom Bottomley
26 June 2024

The percentage of female board-level leaders has jumped from 32.6% in 2021 to 42.3% in 2024, while the percentage of ethnic minority leaders on boards has almost tripled from 4.5% to 12% over the same period.

That’s according to a new report published today from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and The MBS Group called ‘Diversion and Inclusion in UK Retail’, which reveals that retail leadership is now more diverse than ever - despite inclusion remaining the "nut to crack".

The D&I report looks at diversity of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, social mobility and age. It aims to drive change in the industry by tracking progress made since the report first launched in 2021, and it identifies what more needs to be done "to ensure all individuals have the opportunity to progress".

D&I sits high on many shareholder agendas to ensure it is embedded throughout a business, but according to the report it is "not being sufficiently prioritised" by some investors or owners.

The report shows that while significant progress on diversity has been made over the last three years, it is "not ubiquitous across the industry", as 35% of retailers still have an all-white board, over half have no ethnic diversity on their executive committees, and areas such as social mobility and disability "need much greater focus”.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, said: "I am proud to see the strides retailers have made in just three short years to improve diversity – especially at a time when D&I could easily have been relegated to the sidelines in the face of a turbulent economic backdrop.

"It is clear that initiatives, such as our D&I Charter, are vitally important in helping retailers learn from each other and drive forward change.

"But, inclusion is the nut the industry still needs to crack. The progress made on diversity will only be meaningful and effective when it happens in tandem with a workforce where every employee feels happy and included.

"There needs to be greater focus on initiatives to change workplace culture to ensure we see this shift on inclusion. Only then will we complete our mission in creating a truly diverse and inclusive industry."

Other key statistics revealed in the report include:

  • 98% of retailers have a coordinated D&I strategy in place.
  • 67% of businesses now include social mobility in their D&I strategies, compared to just 20% in 2021.
  • 67% of businesses could identify at least one senior leader from the LGBTQ+ community, compared with 27% in 2021.
  • There is a lack of disabled role models – only 11% of respondents could identify a disabled role model in their business.

In 2021, alongside the first edition of the D&I report, the BRC launched its D&I Charter. Over 90 retailers are now signatories and have pledged to improve D&I by focusing on six areas – CEO oversight, recruitment, progression, reporting, inclusivity, and responsibility.

The charter helps retailers to challenge their culture and biases holistically, learn from each other and embed enhanced D&I into their business.

Free NewsletterVISIT