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Gender-balanced leadership improves retail experience

Friday, June 3, 2016  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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Increasing gender balance in leadership roles has the potential to improve retailers’ customer experience, according to the latest Commonwealth Bank Retail Insights Report.

"Our research shows a clear correlation between the percentage of female executives in a retail business and its success across a range of metrics, including business confidence, personalization and — most strikingly — customer experience,” said Michael Cant, executive general manager, corporate financial services, Commonwealth Bank. The report is based on survey responses from 382 senior retail business decision makers in Australia earlier this year.

Retailers who provide an "extremely good” customer experience have leadership teams with an average of 47 percent female executives, compared to an average of 35 percent female executives on leadership teams at businesses where customer experience is "poor.”

Retailers with 75 percent or more female executives place a higher importance on customer experience than those with no female executives and are more likely to view personalization as an important part of their customer experience strategy. "And they’re right,” said Jerry Macey, national manager retail, Commonwealth Bank. "In previous research, we found that three-quarters of Australians will stay loyal to a business that personalizes their experience.”

Business confidence was significantly higher for retailers with more females in executive roles. For those businesses with a 75 percent female executive team, 30 percent expect business conditions to improve, compared with only 16 percent with no female executives.

The report also shows retail is among the top-performing industries in Australia when it comes to gender balance in leadership, with retailers on average employing 41 percent females in executive roles, well ahead of the 23.3 percent average for Australia’s top 2,000 companies.

"It’s encouraging that many retail businesses have more female executives than average, however clearly some lag this trend,” Macey said. "They may want to pursue gender balance considering the customer experience benefits that accrue.” 

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