Could Gender Quotas Save Retailers?

It’s rare that a week goes by without another retailer going out of business, and often the reason they’ve gone bust is that they did not understand their customer well enough. Roughly 80 percent of purchase decisions are made by females, yet most retail executives are male. Is it any wonder that retailers are failing to understand their customers and their wants/needs?

Maybe the constant string of failures is natural selection at play and it’s the ecosystem trying to tell us retailers that we need more female representation on our boards and senior teams. Myer is the most recent example of a company struggling with a mostly male board. Two of seven of its board are female, and three of nine of its executive team are female. Maybe the ratio should be the other way around if most of their customers are female?

This is something we practice at The Party People, as three-quarters of our senior team are women, as well as three-quarters of our frontline team.

There is no simple fix to the issue gender equality. Quotas are not the perfect solution, as I would agree we should always pick the best person for the job regardless of gender. However, I would also argue that you don’t have the right team if you don’t have diversity. Quotas are one way of ensuring workplace diversity, and they don’t have to be 50 percent; they can be 30 percent, 40 percent – whatever represents an appropriate level for your specific retail business.

Females are calling us males out on the gender diversity issue, but very little is being done about it. As CEO’s, it’s important we listen to our team, our customers and the community. The community is speaking and we’re not listening. I think all companies need to ask the question, who are our customers and does our senior team have the range of diverse views needed to ensure we understand them as they continually evolve?

Females today run some of the fastest growing retailers. Adore Beauty, Showpo, Flora and Fauna, Hunting For George, Shoes of Prey, Mountain Bikes Direct, Birds Nest, the list goes on and on, proving there are successful retailers killing it with females at the top.

Is the solution to our retail woes as simple as putting some women at the top?

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