UK Retailers Making Progress On Diversity – Inclusion Harder To Achieve

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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UK Retailers Making Progress On Diversity – Inclusion Harder To Achieve

British retailers have made positive strides in ensuring that the composition of their leadership teams is more diverse than ever before, however, inclusion remains a ‘tough nut to crack’, a new report from the British Retail Consortium and the MBS Group has found.

The Diversity and Inclusion in UK Retail report explored the retail D&I landscape in 2024, exploring the diversity of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, social mobility and age therein, and tracking the progress made since a similar report on the topic was published, in 2021.

It found that the percentage of female board-level leaders has risen from 32.6% in 2021 to 42.3% in 2024, while the percentage of ethnic-minority leaders on boards has nearly tripled, from 4.5% to 12%, over the same period.

However, there are still hurdles to overcome, with 35% of retailers still having an all-white board, and more than half having no ethnic diversity on their executive committees whatsoever.

In addition, areas such as social mobility and disability need much greater focus, while more priority needs to be given to ensuring that D&I is embedded throughout a business, the report noted.


At the same time, inclusion is proving harder to achieve, with sentiment among employees generally low. Among those who chose ‘other’ or ‘prefer not to say’ to describe their sexual orientation, and those who are of a Black/African/Caribbean background, inclusion sentiment is lower still, according to the report.

Coordinated D&I Strategy

Some 98% of retailers have a coordinated D&I strategy in place, while 67% of businesses now include social mobility in their D&I strategies, compared to just 20% in 2021.

The report also shows that 67% of businesses can identify at least one senior leader from the LGBTQ+ community – a significant increase from 27% in 2021. However, there is a notable lack of disabled role models, with only 11% of respondents able to identify one in their business.

‘Learn From Each Other’

“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,” commented Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium.


“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.”

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