The retail industry is built around diverse products, services, cultures, and customers as we continue to look for ways to meet the complex needs of a world that is expanding and shrinking at the same time. This has also led to dramatic changes in the fabric of the retail workplace as an increasing percentage of our workforce is populated with individuals carrying a multiplicity of different traits, cultures and backgrounds.
As the retail work environment continues to evolve, all of us must learn how to better deal with the issues of communication, tolerance, adaptability, variety and change. By learning to better understand each other we recognize the unique contributions that all of us can make when we work together. It gives us greater resilience, and capitalizes on our strengths. This creates a positive and nurturing work environment that maximizes the potential of all employees.
Better awareness and understanding of the issues that arise due to our differences can only serve to empower us all, spurring the creativity, flexibility and commitment that will make us better people and more viable and productive leaders. We need to build a culture of respect where both attitudes and actions will encourage mutual understanding, creating an environment where people of all attributes and backgrounds can be valued and successful.
The Loss Prevention Foundation’s Diversity Committee has encouraged members of the loss prevention community to share some of their insights, opinions, and experiences on the issues of diversity and inclusion in order to give all of us a little better perspective. The following account was provided by a seasoned loss prevention professional with more than twenty years in the business:
I have been in the loss prevention/asset protection field for more than 20 years. Over that span of time, I have attended the National Retail Federation’s Loss Prevention conference on numerous occasions. Each time I have been to the NRF conference, the largest for our industry, I have been very cognizant of the representation of gender and minorities both attending and participating in the conference. Early in my career the NRF conference and activities around the conference were somewhat awkward for me. Being a young leader and part of a minority it was difficult for me to envision advancing in the field of loss prevention, as I viewed the NRF conference as a sampling of who the industry viewed as leadership.
As is true in every aspect of loss prevention, progress has also been made in the area of diversity. Just looking around at the participants that take part during the NRF conferences when I attend today, the progress is evident. But as we have conversations around committing to or enhancing diversity, it’s important for us to take a critical look at the progress that has been made, assess whether enough progress has been made, and determine whether or not we are satisfied that we’ve made enough progress. Are those of us in loss prevention keeping pace with our internal and external customers when it comes to supporting diversity?
Retail can be found in every community and is heavily represented by females within other divisions of the business. Why then has loss prevention continued to be a field that has such opportunity in the area of diversity? Loss prevention/asset protection has truly evolved. Our role has become much more about having a strong business acumen and being a part of enhancing profitability. Any perception that this should remain a field so heavily dominated by males may be considered a misrepresentation.
As we recruit and promote our business, we must keep in mind whether or not we are satisfied with our efforts to support diversity in the workplace, and if there’s an opportunity to do more. How we recruit and where we recruit will usually determine who we hire and who we promote.