Oct 1, 2020
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John Lewis creates advisory group to review inclusivity of fashion ranges

Oct 1, 2020

The John Lewis Partnership has announced a series of actions aimed at building a more inclusive business as part of Black History Month.

John Lewis

The British retailer said it has been working closely with its black employees over the last few months to better understand how to improve their experience.

This work will result in a diversity and inclusion strategy that will be developed with colleagues from all underrepresented groups. 

Additionally, the department store has launched a Black Partner Advisory Group whose aim is to look at the fashion and food ranges to make sure they are inclusive and representative.

Further advancing this agenda will be a reverse mentoring scheme pairing 176 senior executives with black partners.

John Lewis said the changes have been prompted by the killing of George Floyd in the US and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, which led the company “to reflect deeply on the role we can play to make sure Black voices are lifted and listened to”.

The business employs more than 81,000 people across the UK, of which just 15.3% identify as BAME (meaning they are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds), according to the 2019 Gender Pay Gap Report.

The majority of BAME colleagues at John Lewis have non-management positions, with just 3% of partners from ethinc minority backgrounds holding a senior leadership role.

In a letter addressed to customers and partners, the retailer said: “We know there is still so much more to do and this is going to take relentless focus over time. These are just the first steps and they’ve helped us to understand what we need to do. We are not perfect, and don’t profess to be, so please bear with us while we learn and improve.”

Global protests against racial discrimination have pushed many brands and organisations to review their internal structures and the way they represent minorities. In June, PrettyLittleThing launched a capsule collection with American rapper Saweetie, with 100% of profits going to Black Lives matter, while beauty brand Glossier is donating $500k as grants to black-owned beauty businesses. 

Meanwhile, an initiative called the 15 Percent Pledge is urging fashion retailers to dedicate 15% of their shelf space to black-owned businesses and designers.

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