This is the third year our colleagues in retail have played an active part in Fashion Footprint and they have left us in no doubt of their commitment to ensure their contribution is meaningful and measurable.
Year one saw quick wins provide a sense of achievement, while last year we tapped into the stores’ competitive spirit and inspired our retail people to take action on an individual basis.
This year the focus has shifted to identify more far-reaching and profound ways in which our store teams can make a difference. Additionally, we have recognised the need to vocalise the programme’s aims across a diverse retail network.
Regular retail working party meetings throughout the year have identified the following plan:
- Review Fashion Footprint engagement in terms of the retail structure – look for opportunities to create sponsors (Fashion Footprint Warriors) across towns and areas, embed messages within induction and recruitment and launch a retail questionnaire
- Launch a new year campaign that establishes a continuous ‘two way’ Fashion Footprint communication
- Support Fashion Footprint communication with a monthly retails focus and ‘call to action’
- Design a Fashion Footprint or brand bag and find the greenest Arcadia towns will be launched
- Establish a measurement process to plot the benefits of the campaign to reduce paper usage and to track targets within the monthly store energy usage reports
As the reporting year came to a close, work was on-going to plan a Fashion Footprint event that would provide a focus and launch activity/initiatives to mark our tenth anniversary.
In the last year, Arcadia has piloted a number of schemes to support local communities. This activity embraces our employee volunteering pilots and a partnership with a group of schools in the north London area.
In order to provide these activities with a single point of focus, we have created a new role at Group level of Community Partnerships Manager.
Meanwhile, the team at TOPMAN carried out a garden refurbishment for Certitude, a London-based not-for-profit organisation that provides personalised support for people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs.
Since January 2014, we have been involved in a partnership with a group of London schools and academies that helps support students to increase their workplace readiness.
The Arcadia Experience offers a career programme to Year 12 students, including after-school master classes delivered by Arcadia directors in subjects such as finance, public relations and buying. Support in Curriculum Vitae (CV) writing and interview skills are also on offer.
As part of the scheme, 45 students are selected each year for two weeks’ work experience. Since becoming involved in this year’s launch event, TV and music judge and mentor Simon Cowell has accepted five of the students into his Syco operation, with the remaining 40 joining Arcadia.
During their two weeks with Arcadia the students spend half their time with a team in a business area of their choice, experiencing what life on the job in their chosen profession is really like. The remainder of their time is spent in group activities, designed to educate them about the breadth of a retail organisation and also hone their team-building skills. These include a master class with Sir Philip Green, a flagship store tour and shopping experience.
It is hoped that under the guidance of our new Community Partnerships Manager the scheme will continue to develop.
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
All our employees in Buying, Merchandising, Design and Technical Services have taken part in our Introduction to Ethical Trading workshop, including 250 new employees who have attended this year. The workshop is mandatory and is managed by the brands as part of their induction process.
Our senior team members are reminded of their responsibilities in the area of purchasing practices via our Leadership Expectations framework.
This year over 50 of our employees received training in the objectives of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP). The training was delivered by Made By, a not-for-profit organisation that acts to improve environmental and social conditions within the fashion industry, and received high levels of positive feedback. For more on SCAP, see Our Products/Environmental Impacts of Products.
As mentioned within the Environmental Impacts of Our Products section, we arrange regular training for our product teams to refresh their awareness of the EU REACH Regulations (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of hazardous CHemicals) and develop their understanding of global chemical compliance requirements. This year all our buying team members have received updates and detailed sessions have been run for 60 members of our technology teams.
In a major development for the business this year, we embarked on a new employee survey for head office staff to measure internal engagement with Fashion Footprint. The response was overwhelmingly supportive of the programme with 95% of respondents either saying that Fashion Footprint ‘matters to them’ (47%) or that it is ‘super important’ (48%).
In total, more than 1,000 employees took part, with many of them volunteering feedback.
The survey was a key driver for our decision to publish the Responsibilities Report in digital form only this year. Eight out of ten employees voted in favour of paper-free reporting, supported by comments such as:
“It doesn’t make any sense to do a printed environmental communication”
“We need an interactive website – something that requires user engagement”
We plan to establish the survey as an annual activity to drive employee feedback and to demonstrate that we are listening to employees and acting on what we’ve learned. The high levels of engagement are hugely encouraging and we see the survey as the best way to incorporate employee inputs into the programme.
The survey underlines our commitment to try new approaches and constantly search for different ways to engage our employees and create a consistent, measurable forum for feedback.
On the back of the survey, we have created a Fashion Footprint communications calendar, ensuring we are sharing the responsibility message with staff on a monthly basis. We have also updated our tone of voice and visual style to tie in with the creative communications campaigns that are developed at a Group level to engage employees.
Initiatives to date have included a competition to create a rhyme or song celebrating Fashion Footprint. Our lucky winners were treated to a VIP evening of music from singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran at Wembley Stadium.
September saw the launch of the tenth anniversary of Fashion Footprint with a series of short films designed to communicate our milestones in a different way. These were shared with staff via Instagram and Tumblr. Head office staff also took part in a Big Birthday Quiz to be in with the chance to win ten prizes ranging from an Apple Watch to an eco-hotel break.
Our tenth anniversary celebrations have also included updating the Fashion Footprint branding. Our new creative approach is bold, iconic and designed to appeal to our employees in particular.