Fashion footprint festivals
We ran three days of Fashion Footprint Festivals again this summer, combining our popular sample sales with additional fun and pampering with a serious aim – to raise funds for our Fashion Footprint charity Tender Heart in India. The events were the established mix of updates on Fashion Footprint achievements, shopping, treats and food. For more on this and our fundraising for Tender Heart, see Our Communities.
RETAIL ROLL OUT
One of the most significant developments in this key pillar during 2012 has been the debut of Fashion Footprint among our retail employees. The programme was introduced to all stores across all brands in May 2012. An initial working party kicked off the retail introduction with representatives from all brands and different levels of seniority within the business.
The meeting identified a huge appetite from the stores to get involved in Fashion Footprint and unlocked a wide range of ideas to be explored. One recurrent theme was the reduction of stationery consumed and, because it involves all retail employees and impacts can be readily measured, it was selected as a pilot project. With one tangible commitment identified, the group decided to complement it with a second that would focus on the mindset of our retail teams. To this end, we asked employees to create and illustrate pledges that they believe can make a difference in their store.
Having identified these two launch targets, Fashion Footprint was introduced to every store manager via our area training meetings. This also allowed us to gather information on quantities of materials consumed in stores during 2011 and to focus efforts to reduce these.
Our effort to reduce stationery is already underway with orders streamlined according to the size and nature of the store. Maximum order quantities have been introduced and the way orders are submitted changed to remind us how much we consume.
The second of the two initial targets has seen a phenomenal response with our stores’ passion and enthusiasm for Fashion Footprint reflected in the pledge boards they have created, using recycled materials. Their pledges not only encapsulate a reduction in waste and energy consumption at work but also embrace home life too with some employees committing to make small changes to how they live knowing that these will add up to larger impacts, such as turning down the heating or using public transport.
Wallis spearheaded an exciting new employee volunteering pilot programme this year which came out of the Fashion Footprint Advisory Panel’s research and advice on something employees could get involved in. The brand is working with three organisations to provide volunteers for various projects and if it proves successful, there is the potential to adopt the approach across our other brands.
A focus group initially gauged employees’ appetite to get involved and two key themes emerged: people were keen to make a difference and believed they possessed skills that could benefit the wider community.
One employee who was involved said: “rather than shaking a collection tin, we wanted our transferable skills to be put to good use.” Three causes were identified as a result of the focus group: young people, homelessness and cancer. This work was followed up by a survey to identify levels of support across the brand and most of those who replied said they would be interested in getting involved.
Arcadia agreed that it would match the personal time given by employees. For instance, an employee volunteering a day of their holiday allowance is given the same amount of paid time by the company.
The three organisations chosen to take part in the volunteering pilot are:
- FAD (Fashion Awareness Direct), a creative charity that supports young people to bridge the gap between education and a career in fashion;
- Providence Row, a drop-in centre for the homeless in East London; and
- Paul’s Cancer Support Centre in Battersea, south London.
Partners were chosen on the basis that they are located close to head office in London and operate on a sufficiently small scale that volunteers feel they can really make a difference.
A hugely successful initial project took place in July this year, working with FAD and teenagers from socially deprived London Boroughs. The aim was to help FAD’s young people improve their self-image and provide them with careers advice. This took the form of a very pragmatic challenge to create a collection of sports inspired clothing to coincide with the Olympics and to be shown on the catwalk at an event hosted by the Fashion Retail Academy in central London.
Parents of the young people who attended the event told the 18 volunteers from Wallis that it was one of the best things that had ever happened to their children in terms of providing them with valuable life skills.
To date 126 hours have been given by individuals at Wallis, which has been matched by the business. The two other volunteering projects took place in September 2012 so we will include them in next year’s report.
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
All employees in Buying and Merchandising, Design and Technical Services are required to attend Introduction to Ethical Trading training. The workshop is mandatory and is managed by the brands as part of their induction process. This year 310 employees have attended the workshops.
Purchasing Practices training is also being rolled out to employees in the above functions. We have made good progress towards our target of training 500 people by the end of 2012.