Making a Lasting Contribution to Diversity and Inclusion at Liberty
Our Self-Assessment on Racism and InclusivityRead more
Last year, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the world came together to fight racism and prejudice. At Liberty, we knew we had to go beyond the moment in time, looking in the mirror at how we operate, and how we can best make a lasting contribution to diversity and equality, creating an inclusive environment for our employees and customers.
Starting with our internal view of the Company, we formed a diversity team, called ‘Equality Movement’ – reporting to the CEO and tasked with taking actions to drive diversity and inclusion, providing representation and a platform for change, direct from the community it impacts.
These are just some of the actions the team have put in place over the past 12 months…
Our first priority was to define the team mandate– and after some debate we chose to define diversity broadly, looking first at BAME and LGBTQ+ representation. We recognised the limitations of these aggregators – particularly with BAME – a broad container to mean ‘non-white’ that inadequately bundles very different people. We will get more specific in time, but to kickstart our efforts, we decided broad definitions would allow us a faster bias to action.
Our next priority was to create a diversity blueprint of the organisation. We had (and have) a longstanding commitment to ensuring a high % of female employees and aim to have 50% female representation in our leadership team. However, we decided the time was right to create a full diversity view of our employees, including race and orientation. We asked all our employees to voluntarily self-assess their diversity profile. While fully respecting some may prefer not to describe themselves or participate to this effort, we had a response rate that has allowed us to confirm what we already knew empirically: While our retail store operations are diversity rich, our office and administrative functions are insufficiently diverse. We also collected a wealth of spontaneous feedback from employees on what we could do to drive inclusion in the workplace.
Our leadership team now targets to be 50% female, 25% BAME and have representation from LGBTQ+. We are currently on target.
As previously declared, we took steps to introduce one new brand in retail every month for the next 2 years that is either ideated by Black entrepreneurs or targeted to people of colour. In the first 12 months of this effort, we have introduced 17 such brands.
Diversity in product shoots
We recognise the need for diverse representation across our editorial and product shoots, and BAME models have featured across 65% of our shoots in the past year.
From our surveys and interviews, we recognised the enormous consequences of Bias in the workplace. We therefore introduced mandatory Unconscious Bias training for all employees. It will now be a requirement pre-entry to Liberty for new hires.
The past year saw us forge a new charity partnership with Stonewall, signing up to Stonewall’s Diversity Champion’s program – the leading employers’ program for ensuring all LGBTQ+ staff are free to be themselves in the workplace
We have also pushed for greater recognition and respect for how our staff identify by encouraging all staff to include their personal pronouns in their email signatures.
As we restart hiring following the Covid impasse, we are now deliberately requiring diverse candidate options for every new position. We are now also in the process of updating our HR systems so that we can provide employees with the opportunity to voluntarily record personal information from an Equality & Diversity perspective, which will allow us to report on equal pay, and departmental diversity among other factors. While we still do not officially record individual diversity information due to GDPR compliance (our legal and HR team looking at what is legit), on an informal level, over the last six months, an estimate of 25% of HQ new joiners are from a diverse background. The recruitment team has also partnered with London universities to encourage applications from a more diverse talent pool, including for Design.
We have signed up to 10,000 Black Interns - which seeks to offer 2,000 internships each year for five consecutive years – and will offer at least one internship by summer 2022.
For two years running, we’ve taken Pride month as an opportunity to promote change, partnering with the Outside Project: the UK’s first LGBTIQ+ homeless shelter and community shelter, supporting those within the community who feel endangered, who are homeless (or ‘hidden’ homeless) and who fall outside of services due to historical and present prejudice in society and their homes. We continue to support the fight against modern Slavery and the push for greater Literacy – efforts that are not ‘diversity’ specific, but often de facto help underprivileged diverse victims.
We might have done more had we not had our offices closed for over a year. We never want our list to be sufficient – so it will continue to build, be self-critical, innovative, and be based on listening. We might not hit the mark in everything we do but we will keep moving to fight prejudice. We believe learning, education and sharing are at the centre of a culture change that will make the Liberty movement one that is inclusive for all.