CEO Dominique Lamb

Chemist Warehouse’s Jack Gance, Catch CEO Nati Harpaz, The Iconic COO Anna Lee… the list of industry heavyweights sharing their insights into the modern retail landscape during Inside Retail Live 2018’s three-day Melbourne event was staggering.

I was honoured to be invited to panel alongside former Myer CEO Bernie Brookes and Blindspots author Bec Brideson for a discussion on women in retail, as well as join founder and CEO of Remodista, and Woman of Influence honoree Kelly Stickel, to explore workplace diversity.

As most of you might know, as an employment lawyer I’ve been a fierce advocate for better representation of women in the Australian retail sector for many years.

But as the daughter of a single mother whose hard work, determination and innovation as a retailer herself was nothing short of remarkable, and the granddaughter of a woman who was equally formidable in her own retail business (at a time when women, and immigrants even more so, were subject to all manner of gender-based career barriers), I’ve also been blessed to have had incredibly inspiring role models.

These generations of women, and all those before them, have paved the way for modern women’s (and men’s) fight to achieve true equality in the workplace.

The latest equity insights report from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, released last week, has found that more Australian employers than ever before are taking pay equity seriously, with increases in organisations with policies and actions related to narrowing the margin.

It’s found there’s been a marked re-balancing in salaries between male and female workers in organisations that have undertaken a pay gap audit, and then, backed it up by taking action to remedy the results.

A concern however is that organisations can fall into the trap of believing that because we’ve had terrific forward momentum around things like flexible working arrangements and paid parental leave, that we’ve done enough to fix the problem, but we still have a long way to go in casting off the remainder of centuries of gender disparity.

This is just as pertinent when it comes to racial diversity in the workplace. Social science will over and again show that when we are in groups where everyone is similar – whether it’s gender, socio-economics, political persuasions, location etc. – we simply fall back on assuming they think like us too. Not only is it discriminatory, but it’s bad for the bottom line. There’s nothing like ‘group-think’ to stifle evolution in any business, but particularly in the retail sector, where our future depends on our dynamism and ability to think outside the box.

When we surround ourselves with true diversity, where we work with people of different backgrounds, genders, cultures, political persuasions, passions and sexual preferences, we all rise.

We are forced to articulate our ideas in ways we may not have before and often find ourselves challenged to justify poorly-formed judgments. We are inadvertently exposed to ideas and experiences of others that may be in complete contrast to our own. We have to find different pathways to work together; become more tolerant; and factor in other cultural values and viewpoints.

I believe this is the sweet spot for any business, and the place where true innovation and growth begins!

On that note, I’d also like to congratulate the incredibly deserving winners of Inside Retail’s 2018 Awards, who are all testament to what can be achieved when you think outside the box.

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics – Customer Experience Innovation of the Year for Large Businesses

Prezzee Digital Gift Cards – Customer Experience Innovation of the Year for Small or Medium Businesses

Patagonia Australia – Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative of the Year Award

Appliances Online – Customer Excellence, Team of the Year

Prezzee Digital Gift Cards – Customer Initiative of the Year Award

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics – In-Store Customer Experience of the Year Award

Winning Appliances – Innovative Store Design of the Year

Rebel Project Choice & Super Cheap Auto (tied) – Omni Channel Initiative of the Year Award

Prezzee Digital Gift Cards – Online Customer Experience of the Year Award

Have a great week.

Dominique Lamb, CEO.