The benefits of building an inclusive culture were a hot topic at Shoptalk, as consumers become more conscious about the brands they engage with.
The need for diversity and inclusion in the retail industry now demands C-suite attention.
Not only because it’s the ‘right’ thing to do, but because brands who are deemed to be exclusive or unsupportive of women and minority groups risk suffering reputational damage.
This was largely the consensus of delegates at Shoptalk, which took place last week in Las Vegas.
Among the attending tech companies that promote inclusivity was Allure Systems, which uses digitised models to create size-inclusive photography, and MySizeID, a provider of smartphone measurement technology that aims to remind retailers that customers “come in all shapes and sizes”.
“75% of female UK and US consumers favour brands whose adverts show women of various ethnicities”
One business in particular that showcased its commitment to diversity was Yotpo, an Israeli tech start-up that uses consumer-generated content to increase shopper conversion.
Forthcoming research by Yotpo finds 75% of female UK and US ecommerce consumers favour brands whose adverts show women of various ethnicities, while 84% favour those who show diverse body types.
Shining a light on female talent
At Shoptalk, Yotpo announced its second annual Amazing Women in Ecommerce list, celebrating and honouring women globally who are shaping the future of the ecommerce industry.
Chosen from more than 1,700 nominations, the list includes inspiring female leaders such as JuE Wong, chief executive of Moroccanoil, and Dana Testa, global head of commerce at Magento.
As part of the campaign, Yopto also donated $20,000 (£15,000) to Girls Inc, a non-profit organisation that helps girls aged six to 18 in the US and Canada become the next generation of business leaders.
“Women need to feel supported by their employers. Providing flexible working options will mean you get staff who feel more invested in your business”
Melissa Wong, Retail Zipline
While showcasing female talent in the industry is essential to creating an empowered and diverse workforce, retaining that talent is the next step.
Melissa Wong, co-founder of communications software provider Retail Zipline, believes that flexible working is key to talent retention and the creation of a diverse workforce.
“If women are exiting and then re-entering the workforce because of children, they’ll stay somewhere that provides flexibility,” says Wong.
“Women need to feel supported by their employers. Providing flexible working options – and the tools required to do so – will mean you get a better pool of applicants and staff who feel more invested in your business.”
Retail Zipline’s co-founder, Jeremy Baker, echoed these sentiments.
“If you’re starting a business in London, you’d be mad not to let people work remotely from Sheffield, for example,” he says.
“Raising a family in London is expensive. Excluding anyone who can’t afford to do that is narrow-minded.”
Rising to the top
After speaking on stage about the culture necessary to drive innovation within large retail businesses, Sonja Moosburger, chief operating officer of MediamarktSaturn N3xt – the innovation arm of Europe’s leading electronics retailer – spoke to Retail Week about being a female leader in the industry.
“Work with – and for – people who value you and support you. Find people who want you to succeed”
Sonja Moosburger, MediamarktSaturn N3xt
Moosburger’s advice to women working in retail is to be bold in their decisions and ensure they feel supported by those around them.
“Work with – and for – people who value you and support you. Find people who want you to succeed,” she says.
“And take the chances offered to you. Don’t think too much about it, or wait for the ‘perfect’ role. Don’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet – just deal with each moment as it comes.
“In Germany we have a phrase: ‘Everyone else is just cooking with water’. They’re no different from you.
“Trust in yourself, there’s a reason you’re where you are.”
Hear more on diversity at Be Inspired
Speakers at Retail Week’s fourth annual Be Inspired conference include TJX Europe president Louise Greenlees, retail magnate Theo Paphitis and Propercorn founder Cassandra Stavrou.
The event will take place on Wednesday, June 19. To find out more about the conference and Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign, which aims to encourage and inspire the sector’s future female leaders, visit beinspired.retail-week.com