Case Study: Superdrug’s Everyone Matters D&I Strategy
March 6, 2020

Superdrug has worked hard over the past 18 months to become a more diverse and inclusive workplace, with plenty of positive resultsIn this five minute read, they share the work they have done to embed diversity and inclusion into their business.

The Organisation

Superdrug is the second-largest health and beauty retailer in the UK. It was founded in 1964 by brothers Peter and Ronald Goldstein. As well as selling a variety of branded products it has its own lines and offers various other services such as prescription filling, opticians, nurse clinics, and eyebrow threading. Superdrug has 830 UK stores, as well as distribution centres in Dunstable, Bedfordshire and Pontefract, West Yorkshire. It is a subsidiary of the AS Watson Group, which is in turn part of Hong Kong business CK Hutchison Holdings. It maintains strong links with sister companies Savers and The Perfume Shop, which are also owned by the AS Watson Group.

The retailer has focused heavily on vegan and cruelty-free products in recent years, particularly in its own-brand offerings. Superdrug’s own lines have been approved by Cruelty Free International since 2010.

The Problem

As the brand has gone from strength to strength and both store and employee numbers have increased, the retailer needed a solid people strategy. As part of the work done around this it came to the business’ attention that more could be done around diversity and inclusion.

Although the organisation had already set up some employee networks it was felt more people could be represented.

“We already had our gender equality and wellbeing networks up and running, and we had such great interest in them and a huge level of engagement from people in both those networks,” explains Jo Mackie, Superdrug’s customer and people director.

It was clear that efforts could be pushed further though, and so the brand’s desire to be more inclusive and engaging for both staff and customers was shaped into its D&I strategy Everyone Matters around 18 months ago.

The Method

Everyone Matters is made up of six pillars – gender equality, LGBTIQ+, BAME, wellbeing, social mobility (known as Access All Areas), and flexibility at work (called Make Work Work). These were formed from a combination of employee feedback, external research on what other organisations were doing with D&I, and discussions among the leadership team.

“So we could understand what people wanted and what future employees wanted we did surveys, some listening groups, and looked at what best practice there was around. And we ended up with six networks at Superdrug and Savers based on our employee base,” Mackie says. “These really seemed to resonate with the business, and they’re all areas we’re passionate about, that colleagues are passionate about, but also that we knew we could do more to push forward.”

Each pillar is made up of a director sponsor, a steering group comprised of employees from across the business, and a senior member of the HR team.

Getting executive buy-in was very straightforward as there was a lot of energy from the C-suite around the pillars and the strategy as a whole. HR ran engagement sessions, unconscious bias testing and one-to-one meetings with the executives to ensure they were truly on board and establish who might be a good fit for each pillar. Mackie herself leads Access All Areas.

“Each pillar is now headed up by a director sponsor and they are actively involved in the steering groups and support the networks. Not just as a figurehead, but also working with the teams to help them and direct them,” she explains.

Superdrug CEO Peter Macnab is particularly passionate about Everyone Matters, and even creates podcasts to help inform and engage the workforce around D&I.

Steering group members have a range of roles within Superdrug and come from retail, back office and the distribution centres. While most members volunteered to be part of a pillar’s steering group, Mackie says they “tapped a few people on the shoulder” if it was felt they could particularly add to a group’s effectiveness. To get the word out to all business premises and gather volunteers Superdrug used its internal communications platform The Hub. Mackie admits that although all areas of the organisation are represented in the steering groups they are (understandably) retail dominated and more needs to be done to even things out.

Steering groups “manage the overall direction and what that particular pillar wants to go after,” Mackie says.

“Last year we put in a senior inclusion manager as part of my team who now pulls all of that together. It was getting a little bit unwieldy; there was so much going on we knew we needed to pull it together so that the groups not only go and do their own thing but it then forms part of the overarching strategy.”

The groups put on various events and campaigns and celebrate key dates to raise awareness of their pillar.

Some of these include a panel for International Men’s Day with a mixture of colleagues and external influencers; a session for National Coming Out Day, where LGBT employees talked to a group of 40 senior leaders about their experiences and what inclusion means to them; Summer work experience for care leavers as part of Access All Areas; and a store manager social mobility pledge.

“We’ve had 100 managers sign up to our social mobility actions, which are things like giving additional interview feedback to candidates to help them when they next apply for roles, or providing quality work experience and making sure that there’s good feedback on the back of that,” says Mackie. “We’ve done quite a lot with different activities in the pillars. And then we’ve also got some partnerships with external organisations.”

Some of the external partnerships are with organisations such as the LGBT Foundation, Carers UK, Drive Forward Foundation, and Retail Week’s ‘Be Inspired’ campaign.

“They’ve been incredibly useful in two areas. One they’ve given us credibility in what we’re trying to do, but they’ve also been able to offer us advice and support in how we move things forward,” Mackie says.

Superdrug has been making good use of internal resources as well, for example its nurses attending employee events to give health checks such as blood pressure tests as part of the wellbeing pillar. Mackie says many employees have made changes to their lifestyles as a result.

The Result

Everyone Matters has been received extremely well by staff. Feedback from managers and assistant store managers has all been positive, and in the latest employee survey engagement was at an excellent 82%. Other impressive figures include getting 500 apprentices into the business and having 70% internal succession.

The strategy has been recognised externally too. In a Europe-wide ranking of 700 companies by the Financial Times Superdrug came fifth in retail and 52nd overall, beating businesses like P&G, L’Oréal and Sainsbury’s.

Going forward, Superdrug has a full calendar of D&I events for 2020, with more than 100 days of celebration and recognition planned.

“We’ll do more inclusion leadership training for our store managers and more employee panels. We are also doing more around getting people from disadvantaged backgrounds into work as we go through 2020. And then we want to explore around what we do with race and ethnicity and disability. We’re looking at and considering the Race at Work Charter and basically looking at other schemes to see what else we could buy into,” shares Mackie.

The business also wants to analyse how it can measure the reach and efficacy of Everyone Matters and is considering introducing pulse surveys. It has an eye on potential future legislation such as ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting too.

Mackie says: “We want to be prepared for either of those coming through. We’ll carry on listening to our colleagues and making sure what we’re offering is what they want. Just to keep building on Superdrug and Savers being an inclusive place to work and open to everyone with opportunities for everyone.”

This piece appeared in the February 2020 HRMagazine.

Case Study: Walsall College and the matrix Standard
August 8, 2018

Walsall College’s Careers Guidance Service is free and available to all students and prospective students.  

Students and prospective students can access the Careers Guidance Service in many different ways i.e. by telephone, face to face and e-guidance. There is also a dedicated Careers Centre located on the ground floor in the Atrium where we operate a Quick Queries Drop-in service for current students on a daily basis. The college provides an extensive vocational provision for students aged from 14 years old and over to no upper age limit.

The Senior Management and Curriculum team are all fully aware of the Careers Guidance Service and curriculum staff actively encourage students to attend or take part in activities or refer students to the Careers Team for further support, when they have surpassed their expertise.

A Whole College Approach

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Mental Health: AoC Report

There are 2.2 million people being educated and trained in colleges, including 685,000 16 to 18-year olds. The government’s focus on mental health will never truly be realised until they are prioritised. A new Association of Colleges survey has found that:

  • 90 per cent of college leaders have seen an increase in the number of students aged 16-18 with disclosed mental health conditions
  • 86 per cent of college leaders have seen an increase in the number of students aged 19+ with disclosed mental health conditions

That is why AoC has today launched Mental Health & Wellbeing: A Collection of College Case Studies – a snapshot of just some of the work going on in colleges day in and day out to support students and staff. It covers a wide range of successful and easy-to-follow approaches to tackling poor mental health and to promoting wellbeing.

Case studies include:

New City College – Hackney’s work with East London NHS Foundation Trust to support adults with psychiatric issues

The service, aimed at breaking down barriers, offers emotional and practical support, including advice and guidance on college courses and help with enrolment. There is a specialist advisor on hand to support students during college and then their progress on to higher education and employment. Read more

The Cost Of Returning To Work
June 11, 2018

New research has shown that the price tag of returning to work can be up to £186, while new employees can face further costs of up to £1,057 out of their first pay packet according to a report from leading employment support provider, Reed in Partnership.

The 2018 report entitled ‘Too poor to work has highlighted the growing problem caused by rapidly rising travel and childcare costs for long-term unemployed people trying to get back into work. The process of finding a job is likely to come with a £167 price tag for someone who has been out of work for some time, rising to £186 in London.

Once in a job, someone working outside the capital may face costs of £223 during their first month – including lunch, travel and new clothing. In London, someone long-term unemployed returning to work is likely to face costs of around £342 in their first month. If unsubsidised childcare is included this can rise to £756 outside the capital and £1,057 in London. Read more

AELP Guidance for Providers
May 11, 2018

This document has been produced by AELP as a guide to help providers and employers understand and work to the current ESFA funding rules on planning and delivering a minimum of 20% off-the-job training (OTJT).

Both the ESFA and DfE have seen this guidance and provided feedback during its development.

Australian Careers Service Case Study: Interview With An Entrepreneur
March 1, 2018

Australian Careers Service interview Tanya Williams about founding her company.

Name: Tanya Williams  

Job title: Chief of Everything

Organisation: Digital Conversations

Q: What does your current role entail? How long have you been in this role?

A: As Chief of Everything and founder, I am in control of everything, as my title says. This means I have all the responsibility, control and get to make all the decisions about the future of the company (which is a good and bad thing). I have been in this role for two and a half years, but have over two decades of marketing, sales, ecommerce and digital experience.

Q: What are some major achievements or awards in your current role?

A: I have been lucky to be involved with some great projects. I helped coordinate the Digital, Innovation & Technology stream of Global Café which was the prelude to the G20 in Brisbane in 2014. I have spoken at many events including Click Digital and done countless workshops. I love what I do. Plus starting your own business is no small achievement. It takes hard work, courage and perseverance to do that. Read more

Steve Croke – A TUC Case Study
February 9, 2018
Steve Croke left school with no qualifications. Today, he’s a lead union learning rep for the Communication Workers Union (CWU) – with a degree in Trade Union and Labour Studies.

How long have you been a member of the CWU? I joined the CWU the day I joined the Royal Mail, 28 years ago. I went from being a member, to a political officer, to a parliamentary election agent, to legal services secretary – to where I am today, the lead union learning rep – a ULR – for the South Midlands Postal Branch.

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Australian Careers Service Case Study: Family Roots Inspire Career Journey
February 1, 2018

To celebrate World Soil Day, Australian Careers Service had a chat with hydrographer Seamus Feery about his study pathway and why he decided to pursue a career in the agricultural industry.

Name: Seamus Feery

Degree: Masters in Environmental Geoscience at Latrobe University

Role: Hydrographer

Company: Sentinel Pty Ltd


Upon leaving school I began studying a Bachelor of Science. After my first semester, I was drawn to subjects based around earth sciences, in particular, soil studies and hydrology, so I pursued a Masters in Environmental Geoscience.


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Case Study: Meet the Award-Winning Centennial Entrepreneur
December 16, 2017

He started his business journey aged eleven. Now nineteen, he’s an acclaimed entrepreneur, investor, speaker and mentor. Meet Ben Towers.

Centennials. The latest buzzword in the business world. As businesses gain an understanding of this generation and prepare for their arrival in the workplace, Centennials are often labelled as the new wave of employees. However, growing up in a digital landscape, their ability to use technology comes as naturally to them as breathing, which means, not only do they have the skills to be disruptive employees, but to be innovative employers too.

The perfect example of this is Ben Towers. When he was only thirteen years old, he founded his first digital marketing company, Towers Design. After completing a multi-million-pound merger earlier this year, he left the organisation in September and is now focusing on his role as CEO of Social Marley, a social media management tool. His remarkable achievements have not gone unnoticed; Ben has won multiple awards and has been named by Sir Richard Branson as “one of the UK’s most exciting entrepreneurs”.

Your Ready Business spoke to Ben about his experience as a young entrepreneur and how, despite his age (or because of it), he has driven himself and his businesses to success.
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Start Up Businesses – Rural Entrepreneur Case Studies
July 31, 2017

As more unemployed people are looking into self-employment her are three case studies of how rural start-up entrepreneurs set up their businesses.

The Bridge Lodge: A wild idea

Angus Birditt and Lilly Hedley launched their own small, seasonal food company whilst studying at Oxford Brookes University. The pair came up with the idea after paying a visit to Lilly’s family in Erbistock, near Wrexham, where they spent an afternoon foraging for wild garlic in the woods.

When they returned to Lilly’s family home, they began making pesto out of their pickings and after realising how delicious it was, they thought ‘why don’t we make this to sell?’ As they were both studying at the time, Angus (History of Art) and Lilly (History), they spent hours outside of their study time researching how to go about launching a food business.

Lilly recalls: “We wanted to learn more about food production, food hygiene, and setting up a business of our own, so we took part in many courses to get qualified before setting up the business.”

Setting up the company just over a year ago, the pair decided to name the business ‘The Bridge Lodge,’ paying homage to the old lodge house nestled in the woodland where they would source their ingredients.

As the company specialises in creating products using fresh and wild ingredients foraged from the surrounding woodland on the family estate – setting up the business anywhere else was always out of the question. However, the pair were soon to discover that setting up a business in rural North Wales would have its challenges.

Lilly adds: “We set up the business in North Wales as that is where I’m originally from, and all of the wild ingredients we use can be picked right on our door step, so for us the business wouldn’t really work as anywhere else! However, being such a rural business, we are very far away from cities and large towns, which can be difficult as a lot of our potential clients and customers are based in urban areas. This also makes it quite hard to distribute to places further field, we really are located in the middle of nowhere!”

Despite this, the pair were able to overcome these challenges thanks to the strong entrepreneurial ecosystem surrounding them – and Lilly is quick to point out that there are just as many benefits as there are challenges that come with setting up a rural business.

“There are a lot of benefits to being a rural business!” She added. “Being in Wales we are very fortunate to have lots of support from the Welsh Government’s ‘Food & Drink Sector’.  They have been so helpful with many things, including introducing us to brilliant contacts, setting up networking classes, and inviting us to take part in showcasing our products with Food and Drink Wales at various trade shows and events.

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