Retailers need to promote female talent if they are to thrive, Be Inspired ambassadors said at Retail Week Live today, International Women’s Day.

Card Factory chief executive and Be Inspired ambassador Karen Hubbard said: “A more diverse board will deliver better business results.”

She added that businesses should use female talent or risk losing it to organisations which would promote female talent.

“We are out there looking for the best talent. If big organisations don’t want to put their talent to good use that is really good news for us.

“The world is changing. The requirement to think laterally, to create new ways of doing things every day, is key”

Angela Spindler

“That is fine by me, retail is incredibly competitive.”

N Brown boss and Be Inspired ambassador Angela Spindler added that she believed fighting conscious or unconscious bias was not the best option for individuals.

She said: “It’s tough, if you’re a man or woman, to achieve your potential. Why spend your time and energy on people with conscious or unconscious bias?

“They [biased people or organisations] are going to have to sort that out if they are going to compete. The world is changing. The requirement to think laterally, to create new ways of doing things every day, is key.”

ECommera retail services director Eric Fergusson added that men also needed to play their part in a culture shift. “Change doesn’t happen because of one Joan of Arc,” he said.

Hubbard added that she did not originally intend to apply for the Card Factory top job.

She said: “Getting to the top is never easy, for men and women alike. The one thing that always got me that I didn’t necessarily see in my peers is the lack of confidence and self-belief that you’re ready for a role.

“I wasn’t going to go for the chief executive role at Card Factory. It was a male ex-boss who asked me if I was insane [not applying for the role].

”That is common with a lot of females. Leaders need to understand that if they want more women leaders.”

Karen Millen have produced this video for International Women’s Day – Who inspires you? 

Retail Week is proud to support International Women’s Day today.

Today’s panel is part of Retail Week’s Be Inspired initiative to promote and inspire the careers of successful female leaders, which has been running for the last 12 months. The initiative has gained the support of 50 high profile retail leaders and offers direct access to these leading names with regular events for emerging retail talent in both London and the North West.

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