Diversity and inclusion

The Partnership was formed almost 100 years ago with the principles of humanity and equality for all at its very heart.

Our Diversity and Inclusion Plan was informed by feedback from our Partners who shared what mattered most to them and received input from our seven internal diversity networks – Gender Equality, Unity, LinkAGES, Pride in the Partnership, Ability, Faith and Belief and Working Parents. In addition, our internal Black Partner and Part-time Partner Advisory Groups and diversity and inclusion sub-group of Partnership Council also provided input.

This plan supports our vision to become the UK’s most inclusive business for our Partners and customers, reflecting and connecting with the diverse communities we serve.

New commitments that feature in our Diversity & Inclusion Plan include:

  • Equal parental pay and leave: From autumn 2021, all Partners, regardless of how they have become a parent will receive 26 weeks paid leave once they have worked for the Partnership for one year. 
  • Pregnancy loss support: Any Partner who experiences the loss of a pregnancy will be entitled to take two weeks’ paid leave. Like all Partners, they will also have access to emotional support through the Partnership’s free counselling and mental health services.
  • Flexible First commitment: All job vacancies will be advertised with a flexible working option, unless there is an operational reason why this is not possible. A ‘blended’ working approach for office-based Partners now exists, providing Partners with choice and flexibility with where and how they work.
  • Part-time working: Through our internal Part-Time Advisory Group, we’ve identified more ways to support part-time Partners to help them progress in our business. This includes changes to our flexible working policy and reviewing our recruitment processes.
  • Supporting young people leaving the care system: We have begun a pilot programme with Essex County Council to help young people aged 18 to 24 leaving the care system into employment. We will help identify job opportunities via our current job vacancies and provide support including coaching and mentoring and interview practice in the run up. We will also continue with ongoing coaching and mentoring once a role has been secured.
  • Supporting ethnic minorities: Inspired by work achieved by our internal Black Partner Advisory Group over the last 12 months, we will expand our reverse mentoring scheme, where ethnic minority Partners from across the Partnership mentor senior leaders. To cater for a broader range of customers, we will continue adding new products online and in our shops. Hosiery from Sheer Chemistry, clothing ranges with AAB and designer Kemi Telford, greeting cards by AfroTouch and new world foods have already launched across John Lewis and Waitrose.
  • Inclusion Committee: Creation of an Inclusion Committee, featuring external advisers who have strong diversity and inclusion experience, as well as our own Partners. The committee will help accelerate and scrutinise the delivery of our plans to be a more inclusive business that welcomes and celebrates diversity.


Further information on our commitments to diversity and inclusion can also be found in our Be Yourself. Always Report. We were the first UK high street retailer to publish our ethnicity pay gap as part of this report in January 2020 and the first to publish parental pay and leave policies in full last year on our jobs website, so that parents applying to our business know what support is available to them. We are also a signatory to the British Retail Consortium’s Diversity & Inclusion Charter.