Globalization has brought us into a new era of interconnected consumerism, with demographics as diverse as the products and services being sold across the retail industry. Stakeholders are no longer merely interested in the utility of these goods and services; buy-in must now align with values-based consumerism.

To maintain their competitive edge, retail outlets must foster a culture of workplace diversity reflective of the dynamic surrounding population. However, only guaranteeing the presence of diversity is essentially DEI window shopping — an appearance-based experience that fundamentally will not lead to profitability or sustainability.

The U.S. Census Bureau has projected that by 2050, the country’s Latinx and Hispanic population is expected to nearly triple, while African-American and Asian populations are each expected to grow by about 60 percent. Market trends may ebb and flow with the tides of a demanding DEI current, but one thing is certain: the ability to embrace the tsunami of change heading our way has the capacity to lift your organization with the rising tide or sink it. Are you prepared?

Why Diversity in Retail is Crucial to Your Workplace

There are myriad reasons why diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the retail industry matters to the future sustainability and profitability of your workplace. From innovation and collaborative problem-solving to productivity and more, organizations who are able to leverage the dynamic talents of their diverse workforce population have benefited from the following:

  • Increased employee retention and engagement. Organizations operating under an effective DEI framework benefit from increased employee retention and engagement by creating a workspace that values safety and a sense of belonging.
  • Increased access to best candidate talent pools. By implementing DEI hiring practices, companies can choose from a growing pool of best-talent candidates to join their teams.
  • Increased stakeholder buy-in. Investors are moving towards including an assessment of an organization’s DEI initiatives as part of their fundamental analysis pertaining to risk evaluation. Stakeholders are looking for companies that integrate DEI initiatives as a corporate value.

How Diversity and Inclusion in the Retail Sector Matters to Consumers

The shift to a more values-based consumerism means customers are now asking themselves, “does the right product come from a company that does the right thing?” With the huge number of options available for products and services that accomplish similar aims, brand loyalty is dependent on numerous variables correlated to profitability. Not the least of which is the ethical positioning of the organization in question.

In 2011, The Network of Executive Women released a report stating customers feel more comfortable doing business with companies whose employees reflect the diversity of their own communities.

Companies that have not been able to meet consumer demand when it comes to doing DEI have felt the stinging slap of the invisible hand. Uber experienced this directly amidst an onslaught of sexual assault allegations and recorded incidents of racial discrimination resulting in a $1.5 billion depreciation in value, with rideshare rival Lyft coming under fire for similar incidents.

Additionally, consumers are uninterested in performative efforts that commodify current demands born out of social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. Pepsi learned that lesson the hard way after releasing a DEI-themed ad featuring Kendal Jenner with the same substantial qualities of sweet-n-low. The ad fell flat resulting in a 4% drop in Pepsi’s brand value with a loss of $18.3 billion according to Brand Finance.

All findings indicate companies that want to stay relevant in the retail industry must relate to their consumer base through their DEI initiatives.

How to Begin Effectively Implementing DEI Best Practices in Your Workplace

Here are several steps your organization can take to implement or improve its DEI initiatives:

  • Set clear goals and initiatives. This allows your organization to set a foundation for its DEI initiatives and to establish a culture of diversity in your workplace. Stakeholders know what to expect, and it structures the DEI of your organization and provides a point of reference for tracking and measuring progress within your organization.
  • Appoint a Diversity Manager. Leadership models and sets the tone for implementing your organization’s DEI initiatives. A Diversity Manager is vital when it comes to facilitating the DEI process in your organization, so be sure to look for specific qualities. The wrong person in the wrong role can lead to backlash from employees and consumers with tangible consequences for your organization.
  • Provide differentiated DEI training and education. Doing DEI is not a direct or formulaic process. There is no one-and-done model. Implementing DEI works best when proactive measures are taken to prevent conflicts that arise from cross-cultural misunderstandings. Training should not be conducted as a punishment and workers should have access to a variety of resources.
  • Track and measure internal progress. Examine your organization’s location across the DEI landscape by keeping tabs on its movement towards your DEI initiatives. Self-audit for internal bias embedded within your organization’s structure. Evaluate what is working in your organization and which areas are in need of improvement.
  • Consult with an expert. Boost employee engagement with anonymity, streamline your organization’s DEI implementation process, and get a bird’s eye view of its internal workings by using an unbiased, third-party expert to collect and analyze data needed to implement DEI best practices in your workplace.

This post was written by Diversio, they are an exhibitor on the HRTech247 Diversity & Inclusion floor of the Technology Hall. You can visit their virtual space here