Hot topic – diversity and inclusion in retail on the agenda at IRX & eDX

May 23, 2023 by
Frank Calviño

By IRX & eDX - New for 2023, there is a DE&I track at the UK’s premier digital retail expo to inform and inspire attendees of the event, held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham in late May.

Diversity in retail has evolved significantly in recent years, driven by changing consumer expectations, social movements, and a growing awareness of the importance of inclusivity – all spurred by the pandemic fallout. 

Consider that in 2021 Rihanna was officially announced as the wealthiest female musician in the world, according to Forbes – but it had little to do with her chart-topping hits. Indeed, the pop star was estimated to have been worth $1.7 billion (£1.4 billion), of which $1.4 billion was derived from the value of Fenty Beauty, her cosmetics company set up in 2018.

Fenty Beauty has revolutionized the industry by promoting an inclusive “beauty for all” campaign, designing products for everyone, regardless of skin tone, sex, and ethnicity. The gender-neutral brand has garnered plaudits for its accessibility and unisex cosmetic options. Its success highlights the importance of diversity and inclusion for retailers in word, deed, and product. 

As Rihanna’s prosperity indicates, diversity in retail is crucial for many reasons. By catering to a diverse range of customers, retailers will expand their base, attract new audiences and drive sales. Plus, if consumers feel like a brand respects and understand their needs, they are more likely to return for custom. 

At the leadership level, a great diversity of thought has been proven to accelerate innovation and growth through fresh ideas and perspectives in a retail environment. Similarly, brands promoting social equality and inclusivity are viewed as more trustworthy, and therefore their reputation is enhanced. All of this contributes to long-term success.

Diversity, equality, and inclusion (DE&I) is one of the main areas of interest at the upcoming 

IRX (InternetRetailing Expo) and eDX (eDelivery Expo), and this is reflected in the event agenda. Registration – which is free – is still open for the UK’s premier digital retail show, which takes place at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham on May 24th and 25th. Indeed, there is a diversity and inclusion track for the first time at the expo, which has been running for almost two decades.

Getting with the programme

Those attending the new track – titled Inclusion and Diversity in Modern Commerce – in Theatre 4 at the NEC on May 25th will be treated to a networking breakfast and welcome from host Stella Sutcliffe, EDI Lead at Diversity in Retail. Notably, tables will be themed, allowing delegates to select where to sit. Themes are to be confirmed but could include women in leadership, race equality, inclusion in the workplace, and mentorship. 

There is plenty of other content to tuck into after the breakfast session. Emily Hamilton, Vice President of Strategic Change at RS Group, a global omnichannel provider of product and service solutions for designers, builders, and maintainers of industrial equipment and operations, will examine how to build resilience. Emily is a transgender woman who commenced transition in 2019 following 35 years of being ‘closeted’. She is an incredible advocate for the trans community and has played a leading role within her global company to create and drive a supportive, caring, and safe environment for trans employees.

A panel session comprising retailers and vendors will explore how a diverse leadership team will give an organization greater depth and breadth of experience and perspective. The panel will be hosted by Miya Knights, Publisher at Retail Technology Magazine, and Wickes’ Head of Operational Projects, Ben Jackson, and Anjali Subburaj, Digital Commerce Architect at MACH Alliance, a not-for-profit industry body that advocates for open and best-of-breed enterprise technology ecosystems, will participate.

Another panel session, Embedding DE&I into an organization, will be moderated by Diversity in Retail’s Stella Sutcliffe. She will be joined by Carly Tait, a British wheelchair athlete specializing in sprint and middle-distance events who is DE&I Business Partner at JD Sport, Eric Bundy, Google Cloud Engagement Manager and Pride Month Program Manager at Google, and also Lydia Amoah, CEO of BACKLIGHT, a workplace DE&I advisory firm. Lydia also founded The Black Pound Report, a “deep dive on the UK’s Black, Asian and Multi-Ethnic consumer spending power, untapped potential and profitability”.

Additionally, several roundtable discussions will cover various topics related to diversity and inclusion in the retail industry. Subjects include ethnicity in retailing, serving the religious consumer – when modesty and abstinence drive consumer behavior – and the women’s role in the future of eCommerce. 

Other roundtables look at why representation matters in leadership, the value of female leadership, the role of e-retailing in strengthening ethnic communities, allyship, and using mainstream brands differently by ethnic communities.

The debut of the DE&I track is just one of many reasons to attend IRX and eDX this May.

IRX & eDX takes place on May 24th and 25th at the NEC, Birmingham. 

Register for free here now. #IRX23 #eDX23

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