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Leona Whitfield, Area Manager UK, Benelux & South Korea, London

As an area manager, Leona holds a key role in creating strategies to achieve our business goals, from sales to customer experience to talent development within our physical stores. Her tasks include training, supporting and inspiring store and café managers and their teams to grow as leaders and act as ambassadors of the brand every day. Leona is also involved in opening new stores in new and existing markets, which means that she helps store and café teams to build a workplace culture that celebrates our brand values.

‘Good leadership is imperative for us at ARKET to continue growing as a brand and evolve as individuals in a natural, warm and authentic way. Recognising the potential in individuals based on talent and not gender helps us keep our brand DNA alive through every step we take. 

When Covid-19 broke out last year, we had to completely adapt our way of working. Most of our physical stores were temporarily closed, which was a challenge we never faced before. The honesty and transparency in leadership I experienced in my career at ARKET has allowed me to naturally approach my teams in the same way. Together, we were able to nurture an open and supportive climate, where everyone was encouraged to think outside of the box, collaborate and find creative ways of navigating in the new reality.

Holding a leadership role as a woman supports my vision that women are limitless in business and cannot be restrained in utilising their capabilities to grow and inspire. For too long, women have had to fight to prove their value and place in the economy. As a leader, it is my responsibility towards my colleagues and the community to continue creating a workplace that is the place of possible for all, regardless of gender or identity. 

If you are a woman who wishes to lead, I encourage you to never see obstacles but only challenges. By challenging, we question – and questioning leads to actions and solutions.’


As a company we have a great responsibility to advance gender equality and actively seek opportunities to empower women through our business. This applies to both our employees and the 170,000 textile workers employed by our suppliers.

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We do this by committing to our diversity, inclusiveness and equality policies, setting goals and measuring our performance as a brand. We actively share our insights and expertise with our business partners and support them in creating more gender-equal leadership structures through a number of initiatives together with the H&M Foundation.

As individuals, we also hold immense power to lead by example, endorse women around us and challenge the status quo. At ARKET, we believe that each of us can be part of the change. Our joint efforts will eventually lead to a structural shift that will enable people of all genders, identities, talents and backgrounds to equally participate in society and be meaningfully represented by leadership bodies.

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