I have two daughters. As with any parent, I am immensely proud of them. They never cease to surprise me.
They are still young but are forming a view of where they’d like to work and the sort of career choices they would like to make.
Young men and women of all races and kinds will demand different things of us, they will want more choice, more flexibility and more options.
We all do our best to make retail a compelling career choice for the next round of school-leavers and graduates, yet it remains doubly difficult to attract female talent into our world.
And a smidgeon tougher still, if you work in my electricals, telecoms and services sectors!
We all want to be recognised for our work, not our gender, or other demographic features.
But even if you don’t support the idea of ensuring you have diverse workforce based on equality and fairness, there are countless compelling commercial reasons that should scream at every reputable retailer to get on with it and make diversity a priority.
Return on investment
A recent McKinsey report found that for every 10% increase in gender diversity, EBIT rose by 3.5%; other reports show better returns on equity, on sales, on invested capital, and better chances of a company’s survival in periods of volatility.
And even if you’re not persuaded by a shareholder’s point of view, then why not ask the customer?
“Women make the decision or influence the purchase of 92% of holidays, 65% of cars, 93% of food, 91% of homes and 61% of PCs”
After all, women control the lion’s share of consumer spending and, according to GenAnalytics, make the decision or influence the purchase of 92% of holidays, 65% of cars, 93% of food, 91% of homes and 61% of PCs. That last number catches my eye…
We’ve embraced flexible working, we’re ambassadors of Retail Week’s #RWBeInspired initiative, and for some time we’ve been proud supporters of the ‘Annual Power Part-Time List’.
We’ve recruited some hugely talented female leaders, and I’ve seen others develop in their roles and be deservedly promoted. And between you and me, we’re pleased to see gender pay gap reporting introduced – more on that next year!
But we acknowledge we need to do more, and right now we’re putting a concrete strategy in place. We already offer flexibility where we can. To give just a flavour, we hope to formalise the way we sponsor and mentor talent, something I am really passionate about.
“This week I was incredibly flattered to be featured in the FT’s ‘HERoes’ list – because, more than anything, I value the inspiration this gives my colleagues climbing the ladder”
This week I was incredibly flattered to be featured in the FT’s ‘HERoes’ list – because, more than anything, I value the inspiration this gives my colleagues climbing the ladder.
That infamous ceiling is made of toughened glass in places, and women need to be given the confidence and skills to break through.
Jane Austen suggested that happiness lies within a woman’s courage to act upon her passion. As a mum, this is all I can ask of my girls, and none of this needs to be at the ‘expense’ of men.
Neither does diversity stop with gender. This is just the start.
Katie Bickerstaffe is chief executive, UK & Ireland of Dixons Carphone and an ambassador of Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign.
Retail Week’s Be Inspired campaign aims to promote female leadership within the retail sector and to inspire women to reach their potential.