Insight: retail sector in diversity drive at CEO level
A new study has revealed that there was a significant percentage increase in the number of female chief executives appointed by UK retail businesses in 2018.
Korn Ferry’s annual Retail CEO Tracker shows that almost a quarter of chief executives appointed in 2018 were women, which was up from 18% in the previous year. This marked the highest proportion recorded by the CEO Tracker since it started in 2012.
Of the female chief executives appointed, only three were proven former chief executives with the remainder either moving up from a divisional managing director role or from a position in the commercial, buying and merchandising functions.
Sarah Lim, managing director of Retail at Korn Ferry, said: “The research undertaken in previous years highlighted a concerning lack of gender diversity at the top of retail organisations. Over the past two years there has been increasing public, media and shareholder pressure on retailers to address this issue, and it’s gratifying to see signs of positive action.
“Fashion, apparel and related sub-sectors have been the obvious winners, attracting more women into the CEO seat. Entry-level and mid-management roles have always been highly female dominated, but historically this has not led to equal female representation on the board. While it takes sustained positive action to readdress the balance, it is commendable that we’re now starting to see early signs of a reversal in this trend.”
Ther study also found that there was a fall in chief executive appointments in 2018 compared to the previous year. Just 44 were made in 2018, compared to 50 in 2017.
Lim added: “In the face of Brexit uncertainty, industry transformation and rising sector costs, shareholders may be avoiding rocking the boat further by changing leadership unless strictly necessary.”
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