ECSP guest blog: A shopping experience is an inclusive experience

As part of ECSP’s ‘Shopping Values’ campaign running this month, Christoph Andexlinger, Chief Operations Officer at SES Spar European Shopping Centers, explains why diversity matters, and his company’s commitment to it.

It should be a given that all people are treated equally, regardless of their gender, their culture, their age, their place in society, their religion, their origin, or their station in life.

What makes us special as a species and gives us the best opportunities for further development is the uniqueness of each and every one of us and the stunning variety of different individuals it creates. Not only does it make our lives colorful, varied, and individual, it also delivers enormous potential for all of us. As special and promising as this variety is, the limitless opportunities it creates can only happen if we all equally recognize its potential.

How is the retail real estate industry positioning itself when it comes to diversity? It’s a big subject that would be difficult to cover in one blog post – its a multi-faceted issue with many different aspects. However, shopping is an intrinsic part of every aspect of our lives. Shopping is more than buying the essentials. Shopping places have become urban spaces where people meet and socialize, inform themselves, seek inspiration and ultimately enjoy themselves. Shopping is an inclusive experience, so retailers and operators should always be aware of how the opportunities they are offering are given to everyone equally. But this inclusive approach is not just for our customers but for our workforce too.  For example, are round-the-clock corporate childcare facilities available to make sure that retail employees can manage the balancing act between their work and family lives?

Our company has adopted a clear stance: All people are equal, and all people have the same fundamental rights. Live is colorful, not monochrome. Our centers do not make a distinction between individuals. We never exclude particular groups or parts of society when positioning our centers. Quite the contrary: We try to provide the most comprehensive offer, the most beautiful shopping experience, and the best quality of stay for as many people as possible and, as a matter of course, to show them our unreserved appreciation.

Ultimately, shopping destinations reflect progress in our society as well. Our daily goal must therefore be: equal opportunities for everyone, and being open to everyone.

SES Spar European Shopping Centers is a developer, builder, and operator of large-scale, mixed-use properties, with an emphasis on retail and services. SES currently manages 30 shopping locations in six Central and Southern European countries. In Austria and Slovenia, SES is the market leader in large-scale shopping centers.