The search kicks off for uncovering retail's brightest stars

Ambitious, passionate, successful female retailers are urged to enter the 2015 Specsavers everywoman in Retail Ambassador programme.

This initiative, fronted by Dame Mary Perkins, champions and promotes women in retail – be they working in organisations or as entrepreneurs. By showcasing the diversity and breadth of opportunities the industry offers, this programme plays a vital role in presenting retail as an exciting and rewarding career choice.

With 80% of household purchasing decisions made or influenced by women, having senior decision makers that reflect and understand the customer base is essential for any successful retail business. Yet, while 60% of the total retail industry workforce is female, less than 5 percent make it into senior management or to board level. This spells potential disaster for the UK’s largest private sector employer. 

In addition, by 2022, due to anticipated retail growth the industry will require an additional 60,000 managers.* It is essential therefore that companies not only promote their entry level jobs but also invest in the development of their female talent, motivating and encouraging them into senior roles. This is why the 2015 Specsavers everywoman in Retail Ambassador programme was launched – to uncover talented successful female retailers, role models who will inspire more women to consider a career in retail. 

Maxine Benson, co-founder of everywoman comments:

“There is phenomenal diversity when it comes to roles in retail, from customer-facing positions through to marketing, supply chain and technology. This programme is all about celebrating and championing the inspirational women who have navigated their way up the ladder and demonstrate that retail is a career, rather than just a job. I urge anyone who is going over and above to achieve success, to apply.”

Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, continues:

“Fortunately, the role of women in the workplace is becoming more recognised. The retail industry in particular has seen a vast improvement at board level in recent years, but there is much more work to be done. At Specsavers, at least 25% of our store partners are female and two thirds of our workforce (67.3%) are women. From board directors to dispensing opticians the contribution made by these women every day sets the standard by which other industries should measure themselves.”

Last year’s Ambassadors featured women from all over the country, of all ages and with different skillsets and roles, ranging from management in national multiple retailers to the founders of innovative boutique brands. 

Partners of this programme include Diversity Champions Worldpay. The Ambassadors will be selected by a judging panel including Helen Dickinson, Director General of the BRC and Jo Delbridge, Director of Public Relations, Specsavers and Sue James, Editor, woman&home. The chosen Ambassadors will be announced at a reception at Claridge’s in London on 17 September 2015.