TRUST ISSUES: We have a responsibility for our employees’ wellbeing outside of work too
Chris Brook-Carter, chief executive of the Retail Trust
For the Retail Trust’s Leaders’ Summit in January, we brought together over 200 retail leaders to discuss the most important issues impacting staff wellbeing; from tackling retention and recruitment challenges, to preventing customer aggression following the launch of the Retail Trust’s Respect Retail campaign last year.
The event was led by retail experts including FatFace’s Will Crumbie, River Island’s Adam Warne and the BRC’s Helen Dickinson who shared their experience and expertise. And we also had the privilege of welcoming the shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, Jess Phillips MP, who along with Dunelm’s senior belonging and engagement manager, Josie Dickinson, and Olympian and Women’s Aid ambassador, Michelle Griffith Robinson OLY, called on retail employers to support staff experiencing domestic abuse.
This is something that we at the Retail Trust have been campaigning for since 2021 when we launched our Retail Industry Against Domestic Abuse (RIADA) campaign in partnership with Dunelm and the Domestic Abuse Alliance. With one in four women and one in six men affected by domestic abuse in their lifetimes, our aim is to ensure more retailers have a domestic abuse policy in place, and to help their managers and colleagues understand what this abuse can look like, how to spot the signs, and what they can do to help.
Since launching the campaign, 30 household name retailers have joined us to support their staff. And at our leaders’ summit, Jess, Josie and Michelle spoke passionately about the importance of a business culture where it’s okay to talk, where we feel comfortable reaching out to each other and can spot when things may not be quite right in someone else’s world outside of work.
At the same time, they highlighted that we shouldn’t feel it’s our responsibility to have all the answers. Instead, our role as a colleague, manager or friend is to listen without judgement and, when and if they are ready to receive help, signpost them to the experts, whether that’s the Retail Trust, HR or a domestic abuse specialist organisation, such as Women’s Aid.
The Retail Trust’s website has several articles and resources about domestic abuse and directing employees towards them is just one way of igniting more conversations. Perhaps you could begin by putting something on your intranet or in staff rooms directing people to the Retail Trust’s content on domestic abuse. Your organisation can also register for RIADA, and we’re now offering training for HR and line managers on understanding and responding to domestic abuse.
After all, we believe that looking after an employee’s wellbeing extends beyond the time they spend at work. And, as a coalition of retailers, we have an unrivalled ability to raise awareness of domestic abuse within the retail sector and the communities we work in.
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