For a number of years, the need for companies large and small to embrace greater levels of diversity has been high on numerous agendas. 

Any number of articles, columns, blogs and podcasts have been dedicated to the need for diversity, but are they making a difference? Are more women now in senior roles? Are there more ethnic minorities in positions of power? Has the number of white males running companies fallen?

Well, if the latest research is to be believed, there is certainly far more that can be done to make workplaces more harmonious, diverse and varied.

The research

A recent research study released by the World Retail Congress has shone a rather bright spotlight onto the fact that there is very little diversity when it comes to the senior leadership teams in the UK’s largest organisations.

The study found that more than two-thirds (69%) of board members in the retail sector are white males, while almost four out of every five (78%) executive employees are male. It also discovered that only one of the UK’s 30 leading retailers – Kingfisher – has a female CEO; every other one has a white man in charge.

This should be regarded as something of a concern.

The depressing assessment of retail

And, when looking closely at the retail sector, it would appear that the picture is even more concerning. According to the research, only one in every hundred executive committee members at one of the UK’s top 10 largest retailers is either black or from an ethnic minority. This is despite the fact that in wider society, 13% of the UK population is black, Asian or from another non-white ethnic group.

However, this lack of diversity is actually quite confusing given that research has shown diverse workforces to be more profitable.

Examples of best practice

According to a 2018 study carried out by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), companies with a diverse workforce – especially if that diversity reaches board level – are likely to experience far greater levels of success. The research concluded that, on average, companies bring in 19% greater revenues if they have a diverse workforce, which is largely attributed to increased levels of innovation.

The research also stated that embracing diversity is largely down to the CEO’s vision and mentality. It suggests that CEOs must make a concerted effort to look at an array of ideas, concepts and business values from a number of different people if they are to attain long-term success.