Black History Month - Our Statement of Intent

Thursday 1 October 2020


It’s been four months since the killing of George Floyd, a moment that impacted the world in a way we couldn’t have imagined. It started a number of uncomfortable conversations and led the John Lewis Partnership to reflect deeply on the role we can play to make sure Black voices are lifted and listened to. 

Black History Month feels like the right time for us to share what we’ve been doing at John Lewis and Waitrose to turn this moment into a movement. 

Over the last few months we’ve taken the time to hear from our Black Partners who’ve bravely shared their experiences. We’ve listened carefully to every word. As an Executive Team we committed to provide a safe space for our Black Partners, and by doing so we now have a deeper understanding of the issues at hand. We now have a dedicated team in place working towards improving the experiences of Black Partners. 

Over the coming months, we’ll work with Partners from all under-represented groups as we create a new Diversity and Inclusion strategy and set associated targets, to deliver on our commitment to build a truly inclusive business for our Partners, customers, suppliers and the wider community.

We are not waiting for our strategy to be set to take action. As we said before, there’s no place for discrimination in the Partnership and we’re taking action to make sure Black Partners feel they can be themselves, always. We’ve launched a Kindness Rules statement in all our shops and across the Partnership letting our customers and Partners know that we will not tolerate discrimination or racism in any way. 

We know that our leadership has an important role to play, so we’ve started a reverse mentoring scheme where 176 leaders have been paired with Black Partners who are providing mentorship, guidance and support.  

We’re working hard to improve what we offer to our Black customers too. We’ve taken the time to hear from them and have launched a Black Partner Advisory Group. Its aim is to look at our products in fashion, food and beyond to make sure they’re inclusive and representative.

We know there is still so much more to do and this is going to take relentless focus over time. These are just the first steps and they’ve helped us to understand what we need to do. We are not perfect, and don’t profess to be, so please bear with us while we learn and improve.

This Black History Month we are focusing on education and sharing. There will be many opportunities for us to hear from our Black Partners and we’ll be celebrating the contribution they make across the Partnership.