Being an inclusive employer is part of our heritage and as a business, Sainsbury’s has always supported gender equality. Joint founder Mary Ann Sainsbury took a very active role in the business from its beginnings in 1869 and singlehandedly ran the first store in London’s Drury Lane for its first few months. Today, over half of Sainsbury’s colleagues are female and hold positions at all different levels, in various parts of the business.
We firmly believe in the benefits that a diverse workforce brings. It helps us to understand and adapt to the changing needs of our customers and offers new and different perspectives on the challenges we may face. Our aim is to create an environment where everyone is welcome and where everyone can be the best they can be.
It’s really important to us that all of our colleagues have every opportunity to fulfil their potential and female progression has remained a priority for us. In the 1940s, we recruited permanent female store managers for the first time and we are continuing to strive for gender equality in this area. Last year, we increased the number of female store managers and aim to do the same this year.
We want to create a flexible and inclusive culture as we strive for better gender balance across all management levels. We’re proud of the work we have done so far in this, but we know that there is always progress to be made. That’s why we’ve identified barriers through internal and external research and have taken action on this.
We have set ourselves aspirational targets on gender balance throughout the business. We’re also giving a platform to female role models, from inside and outside of the business, so our colleagues can learn from inspiring women.
Something we’re very proud of is our women’s mentoring programme, ‘Mentoring Matters’. We launched the programme in late 2015 and we’ve since seen a fantastic uptake, with over 2000 women being paired with mentors. We’ve also had over 750 colleagues sign up to an online network offering development opportunities for all colleagues. This was the first time we communicated directly with colleagues about addressing some of the challenges women face with progression and the response has been very positive.
Today, on International Women’s Day, I want to celebrate the women in our business: from Mary Ann Sainsbury’s pioneering work almost 150 years ago, to the tens of thousands of female colleagues here at Sainsbury’s today. We pledge to continue to champion our female colleagues and prioritise inclusion in our business and I urge my peers to do the same.
Peter Griffiths, CEO Sainsbury’s Bank and Board Champion for Gender
Our Sustainability Plan shows our journey addressing the challenges and opportunities not only relevant to our business but also to the world.