Many retailers are coming out in full force to celebrate women for this year’s International Women’s Day, but do they really incorporate those values in practice when it comes to female empowerment in the boardroom? Nicky Little from Cirrus talks to Retail Gazette.
This International Women’s Day, Retail Gazette looks at whether retailers are being genuine or tokenistic in their campaigning.
With the likes of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements showing the effectiveness and viability of social activism, it’s no surprise that retailers are presenting IWD campaigns to demonstrate an awareness. But this raises one question: how tokenistic are these gestures?
Nicky Little, director of leadership consultancy Cirrus, said IWD campaigns were useful for promoting initiatives, raising awareness and getting people on board. But for most retailers, addressing gender imbalance is about real cultural change, which takes time.
For retailers to avoid appearing tokenistic in their gestures, they need to focus on making a “cultural change”. Little added that mentoring programmes and networking opportunities can help to encourage women to aim for leadership positions.
Analysts say retailers should launch campaigns that encourage women to take up leadership roles.
“Many big retailers have made pledges to improve gender equality, particularly at board level. Like campaigns and other initiatives, pledges can be useful,” Little told Retail Gazette.
“However, they are not enough to change a retailer’s culture. Cultural change requires a consistent focus. It needs to come from senior leaders.”