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Get set for this year’s Retail HR Summit

There are now just a couple of days to go until The Retail Bulletin’s highly anticipated Retail HR Summit, which will be held live in London… View Article


Get set for this year’s Retail HR Summit

There are now just a couple of days to go until The Retail Bulletin’s highly anticipated Retail HR Summit, which will be held live in London on Thursday 21 September.

Bigger and better than ever, the conference will cover some of the hottest topics in retail HR, with speakers from the likes of Charles Tyrwhitt, ScS, Tom Ford, N Brown Group, Lincolnshire Co-op, Cook, No 7 Beauty Company, Eurostar, The Ivy Collection, and many more.

This year, our keynote speaker is Paul Cowley, director of rehabilitation at Iceland, who will be talking about the retailer’s ‘doing it right’ philosophy, which supports prisoners into secure employment.

Here we catch up with Paul to get an insight into what he might be covering at the summit.

Tell us a bit about your journey to your current position as director of rehabilitation at Iceland? 

It’s been a long one over 25 years working in the justice system in many different roles. My autobiography called – Thief Prisoner Solider Priest – might give you a flavour of my journey! But it’s all been through relationships and working with the marginalised.

What does your role involve? 

Face-to-face interviewing men and women in our prison system and offering employment into one of our 1000+ stores around the country.

How has your personal experience influenced your approach to HR and recruitment? 

My views of HR have changed massively since doing this role – I like them now!

What can other retailers learn from Iceland’s experience of recruiting ex-offenders? 

A lot in so many areas as it’s something every business large or small should be undertaking.

What are the long-term benefits of rehabilitation for the employer and society as a whole? 

Social, financial and physical are the main ones – but most importantly it’s the right thing to do.

What are the challenges and how do you overcome them?

Challenges are many but with the help and commitment of the business and the HR team, anything can be overcome.

Alongside Iceland and Timpson, are there any other companies that are successfully implementing prisoner rehabilitation programmes?

Those are the only two who have directors. All the others just recruit via application forms, which isn’t ideal!

What can attendees look forward to learning from your keynote speech at Retail HR? 

They may get some surprises about the journey I’ve taken and my attitude to making this second chance idea work.

To get your hands on some of the last few tickets for the Retail HR Summit, register for free here

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