Sharon Benson speaking to room of businsses

Experts talk D&I in the workplace at Studio Retail

“Talent is universally distributed but opportunities are not” Stacey Copeland (footballer, boxer,  broadcaster and equality champion) told employees during Studio Retail’s Diversity and Inclusion seminar

Recently nominated as Best Value Retailer of the Year in the Retail Week Awards 2020, Studio.co.uk boasts a turnover of £400 million a year and has emerged a significant competitior in the UK value retail market. 

With a workforce of over 1400 individuals, the company works hard to maintain an inclusive workplace culture and ethos where every colleague’s talents are embraced and potential is fully supported.

Addressing senior leaders, Stacey explained the responsibility of businesses and individuals to address diversity and inclusion. Copeland made history, being the first ever British Female boxer to win the commonwealth title after overcoming barriers and steryotyping throughout her life.

“Companies sometimes get it quite wrong, they want to tick the boxes instead of thinking about the human experience” said Stacey, “It is really fantastic that Studio.co.uk are leading the way, thinking about the individuals within their business and encouraging a truly diverse and inclusive environment.

It was a pleasure to be invited to talk about my own experiences, how I’ve overcome barriers to equality and highlight how individuals can be more thoughtful with their language. I hope going forward if people do encounter injustice, they now have the confidence to take action and challenge that issue.”

Stacey Copeland encouraged attendees to share times they have felt excluded or alienated and be open about the cumulative impact that lack of inclusion can have on an individual.

“Stacey has encouraged us all to stop and reflect about unconscious bias this afternoon” said Sharon Benson, HR Director at Studio, “She has shown us that when you take responsibility for driving change and take barriers away,  people are capable of incredible things.”

Sharon highlighted how UK statistics show workplaces are not inclusive and diverse, despite their best intentions.

“Stats show that 93%* of women aged 28-40 who have a caring responsibility feel it is difficult to combine their responsibilities with a successful career. We work to remove barriers and create an understanding environment that opens up opportunity and inclusion for all, whatever their background and situation.”*

Studio are paving the way for other businesses with their existing inclusion strategy, with a negligible pay gap between males and females (-0.1%), and a workforce consisting of significantly more (+8.5%) non-UK nationals than the industry average.

Studio used the session to further develop their diversity and inclusion strategy, which includes investing in data utilisation and AI to streamline their recruitment process.

“Being aware that we may be unconsciously biased as individuals is the first step. Through harnessing technology we can eliminate this. Another thing we will be doing is stepping back and identifying if our adverts and recruitment process have any age or gender bias. This could alienate prospective applicants for example. I strongly encourage all other businesses to do the same.

Sharon continued:

“There is a strong business case for inclusion, with diverse companies reporting 19% higher revenue, businesses with an inclusive culture outperform industry norms by 35% and are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.”**

Managing Director, Paul Kendrick explained:

“Having an inclusive culture fully supports our growth plan and helps us to increase employee retention and embrace differences in the workplace so all individuals have the opportunity to thrive.”