Happier Business

We build happier businesses that are honest, fair and free to think and act for the long term. We aim to make sufficient profit to retain our financial independence, invest in our Partners and pursue our Purpose.

Our Partnership is built on democratic principles. We share the responsibilities and rewards of ownership: knowledge, power and profit.

Partner opinion is crucial in driving the actions of our governing authorities: the Partnership Council, the Partnership Board and the Chairman.

Purpose in Action


Empowering our Partners

The John Lewis Partnership is a business like no other. For over 100 years, it has operated on democratic principles, sharing power with all Partners - values that remain as true today as they did in 1919.

Today our democratic network of elected councils, committees and forums enables Partners to participate in decision making, challenge management on performance and have a say in how the business is run. We have over 3,000 specially elected representatives who feed into our three governing authorities - Partnership Council, Partnership Board and the Chairman, which run the Partnership.

In this short video, created for our Partners – the 80,000 employees of the Partnership, we explain why their voice is so important and how power is shared between three governing authorities.

Harnessing the Power of Democracy

There are a number of ways we safeguard our democratic principles at the John Lewis Partnership.


Partnership Council

The Partnership Council represents all Partners, reflecting their opinion, to ensure the business is run for and on behalf of all Partners. It shares responsibility for the Partnership’s health with the Partnership Board and the Chairman. Its role is to hold the Chairman to account, influence policy and make key governance decisions such as choosing the Trustees of the Constitution, select Board elected directors, change the Constitution with the Chairman’s agreement and dismiss the Chairman.

Partnership Board

The Partnership Board ensures the business is run on a financially prudent basis, major policy issues are addressed and high standards of governance are maintained.

Our Board is different to most, with a mix of appointed and democratically elected Partners. As set out in our Constitution, Partners from anywhere across the business are elected to the Board. Our Elected Directors ensure Partner opinion is reflected in the direction and management of the business. They also bring special insight and knowledge of the business and participate in big decisions such as the decision on Partnership Bonus, approving Partnership strategy, major investment plans and restructuring programmes.

The Board is assisted by four Committees: the Audit and Risk Committee; the Nominations Committee; the Remuneration Committee, and the Ethics and Sustainability Committee.

The Chairman

The Chairman carries personal responsibility for ensuring the Partnership retains its distinctive character and democratic vitality, as well as delivering our Purpose. As the senior executive in the Partnership, the Chairman is also ultimately responsible for the Partnership’s commercial performance and so twice a year appears before the Partnership Council to answer questions on our performance. The Chairman chairs the Partnership Board and leads delivery of the Partnership business plan.


The Gazette

Partner opinion is also enabled through our weekly in-house magazine, the Gazette, in print and online.

The Gazette was first published in 1918 and is now the UK’s longest-standing internal publication that has not changed its name since launch. The magazine was written into our Constitution by our Founder, John Spedan Lewis, as he saw knowledge and understanding of our business as one of the keys to a happier working life.

The Gazette sets its own editorial agenda and has a unique, independent role, operating separately from management, publishing both Partnership news but even more importantly allowing Partners to submit letters on any subject. Letters vary from enquiries to criticisms but vitally creates valuable, ongoing dialogue on subjects that matter most to Partners.

John Lewis Partnership Trust Limited

John Lewis Partnership Trust Limited ('the Trust Company') holds the Deferred Ordinary Shares in the capital of the Company, in trust, for the benefit of the Partners. The main purpose of the Trust Company ('the Trustee'), under the constitution, is to protect the constitution and democracy of the Partnership. The Trust Company has five Directors: the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Partnership and three Elected Directors, who are known as the Trustees of the Constitution.

The Articles of Association of the Trust Company state that the Chairman appoints both their own successor and the Deputy Chairman. This follows the wishes of the Partnership’s founder, who believed that each appointment should represent the interests of the Partnership and work to preserve its future. The Nominations Committee oversees the appointment process of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman. The Trustees of the Constitution are elected by the Partnership Council.

Supporting Causes Our Partners Care About


At the John Lewis Partnership, we do what we can to support important causes that matter to our customers and our Partners. That’s why earlier this year, two of our wonderful Partners, Vinny and Mateusz, went to Poland to help the Polish Red Cross distribute two lorries of Waitrose & Partners products, which travelled more than 1,000 miles from Milton Keynes to Krakow. 

Those trips and convoys have continued, too. Almost twenty lorries have now reached Krakow - carrying over 500,000 items desperately needed by the Polish Red Cross to distribute to Ukrainians, such as pasta and tinned foods.

Our Partners across the country have wanted to make a difference in their own way. They’ve forged relationships with the Association of Ukrainians in 23 different areas of the UK. This organisation is doing vital work to help refugees who’ve arrived in this country. Our shops, distribution centres and offices are supporting by donating clothing, providing food and drinks for welcome events or offering meeting spaces and Partner volunteer help.

We’re not perfect but we are trying hard to make what we stand for as a business - ‘working in Partnership for a happier world’ really mean something even in these difficult times.

Sharing Our Business Values and Experiences With Others


At the John Lewis Partnership we are proud to be ‘Working in Partnership for a happier world' by improving the wellbeing of society and protecting and restoring nature so we can help create a more sustainable future for generations to come. 

Many of our biggest opportunities in protecting nature and halting climate change sit within our supply chains. The issues, from animal welfare to deforestation are interconnected, and we are working hard to improve sourcing standards and put workers’ voices at the centre of a ‘just transition’ to a more sustainable world. 

Our Better Jobs programme has been set up to do just that by enabling our suppliers to hear direct feedback from their workforce to drive improved conditions and job satisfaction for those who grow, pick, pack, make products or provide services for our business. Since its inception, 80 suppliers sites across the UK and China have engaged with the Better Jobs programme. 11,000 worker responses have so far helped us design and deliver programmes within our supply chain aimed at improving the lives of employees. 

Over the year ahead, our Better Jobs programme will expand to two new countries, South Africa and India, and include suppliers in our produce, garment and home accessories categories.  Find out more about what we are doing in our Ethics & Sustainability report.