John Lewis Partnership: Diversity and Inclusion Workshop
Charlotte Woodward

3 minutes

John Lewis Partnership: Diversity and Inclusion Workshop

On 12th June 2019, Guidant Global had the opportunity to host a diversity and inclusion (D&I) workshop at our client John Lewis Partnership’s office in Bracknell.

The workshop was attended by thirty John Lewis employees based in several functions across various offices, and featured speakers including #TeamGuidant’s very own Emma Buckley, Adam Tobias and Joe Wells of Inventum Consulting, Rachael Latham of The Ability People and Sam Ludlow Taylor of John Lewis Partnership.

Throughout all of the talks ran a common theme: diversity and inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes business sense and needs to become the norm.

In this article, we’ll outline the key takeaways from all the speakers during the session. Read on to find out more.

Using our INfluence

The session was opened by myself, to introduce our D&I initiative, INfluence, and explain that “building change into the fabric of our organisation will help us to influence our clients and networks.” INfluence – a programme designed to up-skill and educate our team on all things related to diversity and inclusivity is run by our employees from various backgrounds working at different levels within the business. 

At Guidant, we’ve experienced leaders driving inclusivity. But what we found through INfluence was when we created ambassador groups within the programme, it created a momentum of its own, driven by the passion and commitment of our people who want to make a change.

Recruiting a diverse workforce for Guidant

Emma Buckley, Talent Attraction & Acquisition Manager at Guidant shared our journey in becoming a more inclusive employer and what we’ve done to create a diverse workforce. Our two-angled approach of finding a diverse workforce and being an employer people want to work for is evident through various mediums.

For example, we’ve worked to raise awareness of our inclusive employer brand through a fully accessible website and sharing our D&I activity on social media. To encourage more people to apply for our roles and position Guidant an approachable employer, we guarantee interviews to candidates who have a disability or long-term health condition and meet the minimum skillset criteria for the role.

We also work with specialist job boards to tap into diverse talent pools including Timewise (flexibility), Evenbreak (disability), Equal Approach (disability) and Offploy (ex-offenders). Because of our ongoing commitment to D&I, 70% of our workforce is female and 80% of our employees have a flexible working arrangement.

Diversity in retail

Adam Tobias, Co-founder of Inventum Consultancy discussed the benefits of diversity within the retail sector specifically, but these benefits can also apply to many other industries. Diversity exists across every environment even if they’re not visible and the commercial benefits to an inclusive environment include:

  • 35% more likely to outperform non-inclusive competitors
  • 200% more likely to be innovation leaders in their market

Adam also provided valuable tips for inclusive candidate attraction and employer branding including:

  • Build partnerships with networks that support underrepresented groups
  • Utilise referrals – good people know good people and therefore we need to use the resource we have already
  • Work with your talent supply chain to access diverse group

Focusing on abilities

We were then joined by Rachael Latham, Paralympic swimmer and Consultant at The Ability People (TAP) who shared her story of living with a disability, achieving her goals and using her personal experiences to consult businesses in inclusivity through TAP.

Rachael’s limited use of her left arm means her disability isn’t always visible and so she has experienced unconscious bias when telling people she is a Paralympian or has a disability – often being looked at in search of the ‘visible’ disability.

However, this did not stop her from pursuing her passion for swimming from the age of three, becoming a Paralympic swimmer and a Paralympics presenter, despite discrimination.

Like everyone who works for TAP, Rachael’s lived through experiences that enable her to educate businesses and staff on the best approach to hiring people from diverse backgrounds and the benefits of inclusivity which include:

  • Everyone feels valued and people bring something new to your business
  • If you have a diverse representation within your business, you will see people who relate to your employees buying your products/services

Modern slavery risk in the UK

The importance of inclusivity should not overshadow ethics. Sam Ludlow Taylor, Ethical Trade Manager at John Lewis Partnership gave valuable insight to what slavery looks like in modern society.

The Global Slavery Index estimates there are 24.9 million people living in modern slavery globally and the UK is one of the main destinations for trafficked persons in Europe with an estimated 136,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK. 

We still have an archaic perception of slavery e.g. chains and shackles. Slavery is defined as being forced to work against one’s will or using labour to pay off debts and still exists today. What we see on the surface isn’t always how it is in reality – quite similar to non-visible disabilities and more awareness and education is needed to better understand the world around us, both in work and out of work.


In a nutshell, organisations that offer an inclusive environment for a diverse mix of employees are better positioned to innovate, grow and outperform the competition. When employees feel involved and effectively are more engaged, employers can tap into a greater depth of ideas and insights. This enables companies to respond effectively to customers, attract and retain employees, increase productivity, future-proof their businesses and ultimately, deliver sustainable growth.

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