John Lewis Partnership under fire for lack of diversity in top ranks

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John Lewis Sharon White Nina Bhatia Bérangère Michel
Only 6 of John Lewis' 158 senior UK managers are non-white
// John Lewis Partnership under fire for not having enough people of colour in its top ranks
// Only 3 directors on the permanent senior UK team are from an ethnic minority

John Lewis Partnership has reportedly been criticised for its lack of diversity in its top ranks, with just six of its 158 senior UK managers being non-white.

Only three directors on the permanent senior UK team are from an ethnic minority – chairman Sharon White, strategy director Nina Bhatia and customer service director Bérangère Michel, The Guardian reported.

White, who joined the parent company of John Lewis and Waitrose in February, pledged to improve the retailer’s diversity on taking the top role.


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She said that the retailer was having “an open and honest debate” with its staff to improve the profile of the business.

The criticism came after John Lewis Partnership published its first diversity report titled Be Yourself Always in January, which showed that the representation of ethnic minorities had decreased through the management ranks.

Just 3.7 per cent of John Lewis workers identify as being from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background.

This compares with 14 per cent in the UK’s general population.

However, those staff members are typically represented in lower positions at John Lewis.

Nearly 17 per cent of the group’s lowest-paid staff are from a minority ethnic background, compared with three per cent in the top four management levels.

John Lewis Partnership said it had commissioned an internal investigation to “understand what’s driving the difference in the proportion of ethnic minority and white senior leaders”.

Meanwhile, the company wrote a letter to staff last week in response to the Black Lives Matter protests that it “needs to do more”.

“Actions always speak louder than words. We expect to be measured on the everyday experience of our partners at work,” John Lewis added.

John Lewis department stores began to reopen across England on June 15.

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