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Better Retail Better World

Better Retail Better World

Section 4

Section 4 - Reduced Inequalities

Inequalities are widening across the world and the retail industry as a major direct employer in the UK and an indirect employer across the world has an important role to play in improving equality.




Sainsbury’s launched its 'You Can' initiative in 2008 to support people who might otherwise face barriers to employment. Since then, the retailer has employed 26,000 people through the scheme with support from partners including MENCAP, Jobcentre Plus, Remploy, People Plus and A Fairer Chance. Wilko is a key partner of Business in the Community’s Healthy High Street programme, which reduces empty premises, increases footfall and creates jobs in the UK’s most deprived towns. Store managers received additional training and over 100 have actively engaged and positively impacted their High Street and Town Centre partnerships.



Central to the Co-op’s campaign on modern slavery is its Bright Future Programme, offering victims a paid work placement and the opportunity of a job in the business. The Co-op is also actively engaging with Parliament, including supporting Lord McColl’s Private Member’s Bill on enhanced support for victims of modern slavery and raising awareness of the issue more widely. WHSmith has supported the National Literacy Trust’s Young Readers Programme since 2005. The programme has reached thousands of children across the UK, through summer play-schemes, family reading programmes and a project promoting peer reading in schools. A new three year partnership with the Trust includes ‘live literature’ events to bring children into direct contact with authors, storytellers and illustrators. The partnership reaches a new generation of readers each year and has a high level of impact on their reading attitudes, behaviour and confidence.



Next works directly with Social Enterprise organisation, Doncaster Refurnish, who are able to reuse and recirculate products and materials the retailer donates to create value to benefit their aims, provide employment and support people in the community with learning difficulties, disabilities or are long-term unemployed to learn new skills and develop new knowledge and confidence. Signet has partnered with CLIC Sargent, who work to limit the damage cancer causes to young lives beyond their health. A major part of the partnership was selling Jasper, the CLIC Sargent Bear, in all H. Samuel, Ernest Jones and Leslie Davis stores. The sale of five Bears could pay for one hour of a CLIC Sargent Play Specialist’s time to help children prepare for and cope with treatment. Since 2015, Signet customers have purchased over 49,000 Bears and the retailer has raised nearly £400,000 for this cause.



Through the Clarks ShoeShare scheme, delivered in partnership with UNICEF, worn shoes are returned to store for reuse. A payment is returned to UNICEF for each tonne that Clarks collects and this payment supports young people in Africa to access education – the first step towards empowerment and reducing inequality. Mothercare works with the charity Bliss to better understand the needs of premature and sick babies and their parents. For example, Bliss and Mothercare conducted a joint survey, to which over 700 parents responded, on how Mothercare can improve products and services. Following the feedback from this survey, products are being updates and delivery charges are waived for orders for premature babies.​