In brief

In brief

  • Organizations that are more inclusive see improved team performance, resulting in better business performance and experiences for their customers.
  • Retail significantly lags behind other industries when it comes to inclusion and diversity (I&D) maturity.
  • Millennials’ purchasing decisions are influenced by retailers' inclusion and diversity practices such as gender, ethnicity and disability.

Embracing I&D initiatives is not about embracing a mantra. Inclusion must be weaved into the framework of every organization and every customer experience – from employees to shoppers, everyone should feel comfortable to be their true self. And when it comes to how retailers are doing, consumers are noticing.


of purchasing decisions are driven by a company’s ethical values and authenticity.


of consumers have stopped doing business with a company as a result of its actions.

Authenticity matters to millennials

Companies who stand for something bigger1 than what they sell and weave that purpose into the fabric of their organization, are more likely to attract consumers and influence purchasing decisions.

Our 2018 holiday shopping survey2 found that if a retailer is not authentically committed to prioritizing inclusion and diversity, millennials are likely to take their money to a competitor who is. They are also inclined to choose a brand who demonstrates inclusion and diversity in its promotions and offers, in-store experience, product range and environmental awareness.


of millennials are more likely to shop at a retailer who demonstrates awareness of social and political issues.


millennials see diversity in the workplace as an important attribute when deciding where to shop.

Ethics are at the core of consumers

Not only do consumers want the companies they shop from to take a stand on the social, cultural, environmental and political issues close to their hearts – but nearly three-quarters (74 percent)3 crave greater transparency in how companies source their products, ensure safe working conditions and their stance on important issues such as animal testing.

Retailers have room to grow

Compared to other industry segments, retailers are significantly behind on areas like sensitivity training, leadership behaviors and incorporating I&D into the company growth strategy, according to Accenture’s inclusion and diversity survey which evaluated the impact I&D initiatives have on the people who they are designed to help.

The research also suggests that retailers can improve on their recruiting efforts by developing and advancing talent programs that build more diverse and inclusive teams at all levels of the organization. But when it comes to retaining talent, retailers are on track with the other industry sectors surveyed – consumer goods, travel, industrial and life sciences.

"The millennial generation has high expectations when it comes to retailers’ commitment to inclusion and diversity, and those values are influencing their decision-making."

– JILL STANDISH, Senior Managing Director – Global Retail

Four steps to I&D maturity

Simply having I&D programs in place is not enough. The true success of I&D initiatives depends on the impact they have for the employees and customers they are intended to support, which often means different things to different people.4

  • Is there strategic intent to integrate I&D?
  • Do leadership behaviors support I&D?
  • Is an inclusive culture actively fostered?
  • Do talent actions encourage I&D?

Becoming purpose-led starts at the top. Organizations that want to build stronger consumer connections and sustain their competitiveness by becoming purpose-led5 can do so by:

Defining what their business stands for:

Leaders can do that by understanding what their customers feel, why their employees choose to work for them and why businesses partner with them.

Being clear and authentic:

If a company is truly committed to its purpose, its principles guide every business decision. Consumers can see through inauthenticity.

Engaging consumers on a deeper level:

Getting customers involved in co-creating products and services, designing initiatives and investing in the company’s growth in exchange for rewards.

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