Caring for our colleagues, customers and local communities has always been at the heart of everything we do. For over 170 years, we have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to operating as a responsible business and now, more than ever, it is our responsibility to stay true to this commitment.
As an organisation, our vision is to create a culture where diversity, equity and inclusion are at the forefront of our thinking. From the products we sell in our stores to the inclusive environment we aim to create for our colleagues and customers, we take a zero-tolerance approach to racism and prejudice of any kind.
However, we know there is always room for us to do better – and we will. That is why we shared our Racial Equity Charter in August 2020, committing to making Boots a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place for our colleagues and customers. We outlined three commitments that would help us bring about permanent change within our organisation:
1. Deliver on-going colleague education and development on diversity and inclusion
2. Create a workforce that reflects the customers, patients and communities we serve
3. Build brands and services which reflect the communities we serve.
Six months on, we want to update you on our progress.
But first, you will notice that we have changed the name of our charter from the Racial Equality Charter to the Racial Equity Charter. This is a subtle but important change that reflects the intentional efforts that we as a business are making to redress the differentials that exist for underrepresented groups, particularly around equal opportunity of employment and career advancement. Creating equity means we will apply meaningful interventions that make it possible for those from underrepresented groups to reach their full potential at Boots.
We are committed to ongoing colleague education and development about diversity, equity and inclusion.
- We have continued to use the power of conversation to raise awareness and educate ourselves regarding racial equity and different lived experiences through one-to-one conversations, team meetings and functional listening sessions as well as Executive sessions with our BAME Business Resource Group.
- Our BAME Business Resource Group led a month of activities during Black History Month to educate colleagues on the history and oppression of black people in the UK, as well as recognising and celebrating Black History Month in the US in February.
- To raise awareness of bias and discrimination, colleagues have undertaken mandatory unconscious bias and diversity, equity and inclusion learning modules. We will build on this foundational learning over the coming months as we continue to foster an environment of allyship and anti-racism within the organisation.
- Our Managing Director is leading the way and, following a discussion with colleagues during a ‘Race at Work’ panel he moderated, has recently a started a reverse mentoring relationship which is helping him to hear and understand the views, feelings and lived experience of our Black colleagues in particular. We are looking to roll out a reverse mentoring scheme in the coming months.
- To foster a stronger culture of advocacy within the organisation, we introduced a new business value of inclusion and dedicated a section of our Autumn Leadership conference to inclusive leadership, and the importance of this in creating an environment where colleagues can be themselves, share their views and be at their best.
- The Boots Executive has appointed a Racial Equity Champion who is helping to drive the racial equity agenda particularly with regards to our store colleagues.
We are committed to creating a workforce that reflects the customers, patients and communities we serve.
- We have conducted our first voluntary self-ID diversity survey and shared the findings with our colleagues. We are committed to continuing to gather this essential data and will run another survey later this year. Whilst we do not have sufficient colleague data yet, as participation increases, we will use this to establish benchmarks against which to measures the success of our initiatives and interventions in bringing about change. One of these equity related interventions is introducing diverse candidate shortlists for our senior leadership roles along with diverse interview panels to mitigate bias and ensure applicants from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have a fair chance of employment and career progression in Boots.
- In the meantime, we are continuing to review our recruitment process and working with partners to remove potential barriers and to attract more ethnically diverse talent at all levels to Boots.
We are committed to building brands and services that represent the communities we serve.
- Our trading and marketing teams are now working even more closely with our BAME Business Resource Group to make sure we are communicating authentically with our customers. As a result, we have added several cultural and faith celebrations to our annual calendar of customer events.
- We are working hard to ensure that the images in our marketing campaigns are ethnically and culturally diverse, with our 2020 Winter Flu campaign the most diverse yet.
- Our September / October issue of Boots Health and Beauty Magazine included a number of articles in celebration of Black History Month and received industry recognition for being ‘bold and facing into uncomfortable conversations’.
- We held our first ‘Beauty Think Tank’ with some of our store colleagues to explore how our beauty offer and services can be more inclusive of all skin colours and textures.
- We have partnered with an external agency to conduct a DEI review of our customer communications, the results of which will help us to better represent the diversity of our customers going forward.
- We are actively looking to introduce more ethnically diverse products and services in our stores and on boots.com and our own Boots brands are leading the way. See No7 commitments here.
- Through personalised customer communications, we have raised awareness of how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the BAME community and the importance of vaccine take up in protecting members of this community.
We recognise this is just the start and that we still have a lot more to do but we remain committed to continuously learning together and taking action to support Boots becoming a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place for our colleagues and customers to work and shop.
For more information, view our full Racial Equity Charter here.