Human rights

Our Founder, John Spedan Lewis, instilled a culture in the Partnership of acting with courtesy and kindness. This extends not only to our co-owners, but to all those with whom we interact. Our approach to tackling modern slavery is influenced by these business values. It forms part of our broader human rights strategy which ensures we work with suppliers to raise labour standards, improve working conditions and create fairly rewarded employment.

Front cover of John Lewis Partnership Human Rights progress report 2016-17

Our 2017 Human Rights and Modern Slavery report provides an update on progress against our plans. It shares information about the issues and challenges we have faced over the course of 2016/17, and exceeds the requirements of the Transparency in Supply Chains clause of the Modern Slavery Act.

The report focuses on workers in our supply chains - both in our Goods for Resale (GFR) and Goods Not for Resale (GNFR). The global nature of our supply chains and the diversity of products and services that we use and sell, means that this is where the greatest complexity and risks lie. Our strategy and programmes address the most salient issues faced by workers and are delivered in those areas where we can have the greatest impact.

We are committed to providing greater transparency of manufacturing supply chains. In support of this commitment, in August 2017, John Lewis released the names and addresses of the factories supplying  own brand clothing, accessories, footwear and homewares. 

This transparency strengthens our human rights due diligence and better enables us to collaborate with civil society in identifying, assessing, and avoiding actual or potential adverse human rights impacts. The list will be reviewed and updated every six months to ensure it reflects the current supply base.

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In November 2016 we held our second stakeholder roundtable, with expert NGOs, other businesses and policy makers, in which we had a constructive discussion about our strategy, our progress and where we can do more. There was a strong consensus in the group that addressing modern slavery as part of a broader human rights strategy is the right approach.

There are some key areas that we plan to develop in the coming year based on what we have learned and stakeholder feedback:

  • Delivering our core programmes: Throughout the document we have updated on progress against our plans. There is more work to do to deliver these plans, learn from them and look to take them to scale across our supply chains. We will also strive to understand the impacts and outcomes of these programmes.
  • Engagement of workers: We will continue to test and learn from different approaches to worker engagement and continue to promote worker representation and look to consult trade unions to help guide our work.
  • Deeper understanding of issues: We will continue to seek to understand the issues workers face at local levels in our supply chains and engage suppliers to address issues such as women's empowerment and caste discrimination.
  • Addressing issues in raw material supply chains: In 2017 we will look at ways to address human rights issues identified along-side our environmental sustainability strategies for our key raw materials such as cotton
  • Procurement practices: We will look to strengthen our procurement processes for GNFR, establishing clear standards for our labour providers, engaging Partners across the business and carrying out due diligence.