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Diversity

Diversity

We recognise that every one of our employees is core to the success of our business, regardless of their age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability. We are committed to promoting a culture of inclusion and diversity through our policies, procedures and working practices. In addition, we aim to ensure all of our employees receive equal treatment at the point of recruitment and selection, and subsequently through their terms and conditions of employment, promotion, training, development opportunities and employment benefits.

As a business, we are committed to promoting a culture of inclusion and diversity. We have worked hard to implement a number of initiatives to support this and our aim is to continue to develop these initiatives for every stage of the employee cycle from sales assistants to senior executives and those who undertake leadership roles to ensure that we attract, retain and engage all types of diversity across the business.

We monitor our diversity profile versus our peers and the national average to ensure that WHSmith’s employee profile and that of our management team reflect our commitment to diversity. In terms of gender diversity, we measure our performance across the Group, looking at Board level, our senior management and store management populations. To promote gender diversity, we understand the importance of work-life balance and promoting agile working. Our line managers are encouraged to consider requests for flexible working hours and home working.  Our first gender pay report was published earlier this year and is available at www.whsmithplc.co.uk.

We continue to develop our succession pipeline, to ensure we have a number of women ready for promotion. Mentoring plays a critical role in the development of our talent pipeline at all levels, providing targeted one-to-one support from a more senior role model. All of our senior female executives act as a mentor to support women with their development requirements. We continue to work with ‘Everywoman’ who provide a host of personal development tools aimed at women, including monthly webinars, workbooks and relevant career development articles. The partnership also provides our employees with links to an external network of professional women in other organisations so that contact, connections and relationships can be made easily. Both external research and our own employee surveys highlight that role models are critical in encouraging women to develop their careers.

We continue to work with workingmums.co.uk, which provides an online job and community website for professional and working mothers. The website allows us to advertise our roles and showcase our commitment to gender diversity and to raise our brand profile as a family-friendly employer, supportive to working women both currently in the business and to those wishing to join the organisation. We are also a member of the 30% club which helps businesses create sustainable strategies to increase the number of women in senior executive roles.

Case study

WHSmith this year won an award for providing opportunities for people with disabilities, who have not previously been in employment. We have sought to identify ways in which we could employ more people with disabilities, raising our awareness of conditions such as autism, hearing impairment and learning disabilities to understand what adjustments are needed to assist those who need additional support. Our distribution centre at Greenbridge established a Warehousing Apprenticeship scheme and has been working closely with Pluss, a Social Enterprise that supports thousands of people with disabilities each year to achieve full time work, qualifications and a sustainable career. One of our Apprentice Warehouse Operatives employed under the scheme commented:

“After I left college, I didn’t know what life was going to bring me.  I went back to college to please others.  It was difficult to find work as I didn’t know where to start or what I wanted to do.  I had low self-esteem as I didn’t believe I could do any of the jobs I kept looking at.  I eventually found Pluss.  I feel proud to tell people I have a job especially as it is WHSmith - a worldwide company.  It’s also reassuring to know I have done well and made others happy.”

Employee share ownership

WHSmith operates a HM Revenue & Customs Approved Save-As-You-Earn share option scheme, which provides employees with the opportunity to acquire shares in the Company on favourable terms. At the end of the savings period, the participant has the opportunity to buy the shares at a special option price that is fixed at the start of the scheme and at a discount to the share price at the time.