Lidl Ireland: Inclusion Strategy

Lidl Logo

Business Type: Retail
Location: Lidl Ireland’s Head Office is based in Dublin, with 198 stores and 4 distribution centres throughout the island of Ireland.

Mission Statement:
Our vision is to make life better by providing quality food at market leading value, ensuring customer satisfaction is at the heart of everything we do.
Our mission is to deliver outstanding customer satisfaction.
We guarantee quality food through a rigorous product development and quality control process.
We ensure market leading value by constantly optimising our efficient process.
We work with business partners in sustainable relationships, contributing positively to local communities.
We achieve long term success by investing in the recruitment, training and development of exceptional talent.
No. of Employees: Approximately 5,000 employees.

Overview of CSR Initiative:
This initiative involves assessing our recruitment and retention processes. Working with partners to cater to diverse candidates and helping foster a more hospitable environment where employees are empowered to reach their full potential. The ‘Work Safe. Live Well’ ethos of our overarching people policy is designed to take a holistic view of employee health and wellness. The strategy focuses on 3 core areas; physical safety at work, physical and mental health, and financial wellbeing.

Project team:
It is a company-wide project steered by the CSR and HR teams. Working with Princes Trust in Northern Ireland and Business in the Community in Ireland to expand our usual applicant pools and reach marginalised groups in society.

Resources required:
Capital investment and employee time is dedicated towards our Inclusion strategy. We look to our partners in Princes Trust and Business in the Community also for guidance and to broaden our recruitment pool of applicants.

We have had a lot of success recruiting through traditional channels but we wanted to look into new channels to open the organisation to even greater diversity. Recruitment and retention is more challenging in an environment that is practically at full employment.

Diversity strengthens our innovative capacity in the fiercely competitive retail sector thereby unleashing the potential of Lidl employees. We are all diverse by nature and by championing inclusive policies we help our employees feel comfortable in their authentic selves, benefiting both our retention and recruitment of top talent. By having a diverse team, we are more reflective of our customer base, helping us to deliver our customer first approach and anticipate their needs.

Since launching our partnership with the Princes Trust, we have had a 56% retention rate with 64 participants offered full time employment contracts. In addition to this programme we provide around 30 internships a year. In association with Business in the Community, we provide for 12 placements annually in Lidl stores and warehouses in the Republic of Ireland. As part of the #WeAreLidl ethos we provide Safety Forums and an Employee Assistance Programme for Well-being Outreach to provide one-on-one information and support. The Work Safe, Live Well Roadshow visited locations across Ireland offering all Lidl employees, and their families, free diabetes screening. Underpinning all of these initiatives is financial security in the form of the living wage at a minimum for all Lidl employees.

How was/is this initiative promoted?
We use an array of communication channels to promote our inclusion strategy both internally and externally. These include an app available to all Lidl employees, in-store messaging, and producing a sustainability report. Our partners Princes Trust and Business in the Community help to bring our recruitment outside of our standard recruitment avenues also targeting disadvantaged and marginalised groups.

Do you report on CSR in the Annual Report?
We produce a bespoke CSR report.

CSR Dimension:
Towards Responsible Business’ Ireland’s National Plan on CSR 2017-2020 identifies 4 core dimensions of CSR – Environment, Community, Workplace and Marketplace.

Please select the dimension(s) that you apply to your CSR Initiative and why?
Workplace Dimension
It is important to us that all our team members are proud of what we achieve together in Lidl. Lidl has developed a powerful people policy and incorporated it front and centre into its overall business strategy. #WeAreLidl brings to life Lidl philosophy that a committed, fulfilled, happy and healthy workforce must be cultivated, nurtured and, above all recognised.

This strategy focuses on developing sustainable relationships by engaging leaders, prioritising employee wellbeing and implementing consistent and transparent two-way communication, while positively contributing to business objectives. This has, and continues to, engage colleagues and foster a culture of inclusivity driven by our values – Respect, Recognition, Responsibility and Trust.

We see inclusion as key to successfully leveraging the benefits of a diverse workforce, and we are continually striving to identify new ways in which to create a more inclusive workplace. Lidl Ireland champions the ‘Work Safe. Live Well.’ ethos to support the wellbeing of our team. Mental health is a critical aspect to our strategy with our partner charity Jigsaw being the national centre for youth mental health in Ireland. As a large employer we understand our responsibility to support our workforce through life’s ups and downs.
We also recognise that maintaining a diverse workforce begins in the recruitment process, so we work to receive applications outside of typical recruitment channels. For us, this involves partnering with the Princes Trust in Northern Ireland under our ‘Get into Retail’ scheme and Business in the Community in Ireland with our ‘Ready for Work’ scheme. They enable us to reach a cohort of disadvantaged and marginalised groups to help enable them to develop employability skills within retail.

Work Safe. Live Well.
Work Safe, Live Well is the ethos of Lidl’s health and wellbeing strategy and is our over-arching people policy launched on National Workplace Day 2016. Holistic in approach, it focuses on physical safety, health & wellness, and financial well-being. The programme incorporates safety in the workplace, mindfulness, fitness, nutrition and provides an impressive employee benefits package. ‘Work Safe, Live Well’ supports the physical and mental health of our people through a wide range of activities. Examples include our Safety Forums and Well-being Outreach to provide one-on-one information and support. The Work Safe, Live Well Roadshow, for example, visited locations across Ireland offering all Lidl employees and their families, the opportunity to undergo free diabetes screening.

Our Employee Assistance Programme offers (via App and online portal) our people and their immediate families daily 24-seven counselling, legal, financial and consumer information, career guidance, life coaching, mediation and health information. Additional programme benefits include pension, healthcare scheme, employee assistance programme, anniversary payments, tax savers, sabbatical leave, maternity and paternity top up and a paid volunteer day.

Get into Retail
Our ‘Get into Retail’ scheme with the Prince’s Trust in Northern Ireland helps young disadvantaged people to develop employability skills within retail. Since its launch, we have had a 56% retention rate with 64 participants offered full time employment contracts. In addition to this programme we also provide for around 30 internships a year. Designed for candidates aged 18 – 30 years who are keen on a career in retail and who are currently not in education, training or employment. It aims to support the employment and education of young people while at the same time recognising the needs of those who do not pursue further education or who perhaps do not have this option. Programme benefits include the provision of practical experience in a retail environment for four weeks in convenient locations across Northern Ireland, direct training for a variety of roles and the provision of full travel expenses.

Ready for Work
Ready for Work is an initiative which provides dedicated work placements for disadvantaged job seekers. This programme, developed in association with Business in the Community, provides for 12 placements annually in Lidl stores and warehouses in the Republic of Ireland, and is aimed at those job seekers who may be more marginalised in our society, the programme provides meaningful work experience and a boost for employability skills.

Business Impact:
How has the CSR initiative benefitted your business and demonstrated a win:win in the short-term and/or long-term?

We see our inclusion strategy as a long-term success factor in today’s fiercely competitive market. Our people are central to this success. They look after our customers, drive our operations, support our communities and champion our proposition. They ensure our customers choose us first. As they support us, so we support them. We have invested in strategic policies and measures which ensure our people are properly recognised, rewarded, and cared for.

Retail is a highly labour-intensive sector and with approximately 5,000 employees, based across the island of Ireland, we consider it crucial that our people feel a sense of togetherness and belonging, experience pride in being part of something bigger and are motivated by a shared purpose. We need skilled, knowledgeable, committed and motivated employees to drive our business. A clear and resounding business impact, is our Store Managers asking for people to come in under these programmes as they have been so beneficial. The retention rate of the Get into Retail programme is also successful at 56% and feedback from participants and partners has been positive.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
Please identify which SDG goal(s) apply to your CSR initiative:

SDG 10:
Reduced inequalities - Widening disparities require the adoption of sound policies to empower the bottom percentile of income earners, and promote economic inclusion of all regardless of sex, race or ethnicity.

What did you learn from your experience of creating and implementing a CSR initiative?
Learning from nature, diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides. In the case of Lidl, diversity helps us to reinforce resilience to challenges and maintain flexibility to market changes.

One of our stores on the Ready to Work scheme took in a Libyan refugee who had previously been homeless for two years. They subsequently offered him full time employment and the whole team have been inspired by his motivation and passion towards work. His enthusiasm has given the team a greater sense of purpose and helped to gel them together as a store. This is an unexpected learning around the benefits of reaching out to a diverse pool of applicants. Inclusivity isn’t purely about lending a helping hand, instead it has the potential for empowerment of people to live independent lives. It helps to create engagement within our own teams and giving our teams an opportunity to see that they can do good beyond their ordinary work activities.

What advice would you give a business starting on their CSR Journey?
Starting small with little changes can have wide reaching impacts. It can give employees assurance that inclusivity is something in which the business values making them feel valued in their authentic self.

On recognising this as an area to apply focus, a useful step is to assess the current makeup of the organisation to see where imbalances or vulnerable groups lie. A voluntary survey can bring in surprising results about employee perspectives and where strategic focus needs to lie.

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Case study provided by
May 2019