Good work in the future retail industry

Event starts:

How can employers boost productivity and pay?

2pm – 4pm, Wednesday 25 May | Grant Thornton, Grant Thornton House, Melton Street, Euston Square, London, NW1 2EP

This event is the second public hearing hosted by the Fabian Society’s taskforce on the UK retail sector.

Speakers: Anna Gowdridge (Head of People, Virgin Unite), Paul Hunter (Head of Research, Smith Institute), Tess Lanning (Head of Business Development, Living Wage Foundation) and Dan Murphy (Partner, Kurt Salmon)

The Fabian Society, with the support of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Trust for London, is undertaking a year-long taskforce charged with finding ways to improve productivity and pay in the UK retail industry. The taskforce is chaired by former Morrisons executive Norman Pickavance and is made up of retailers, trade unions and retail sector experts.

This public hearing is focusing on good work in the future retail industry. We will be hearing from experts and practitioners on how employers can transition to a higher productivity, higher paying model that works for retailers and their employees.

The hearing will ask:

  • What does ‘good work’ look like in the retail industry of the 2020s?
  • What examples are there of employers increasing sales and boosting productivity through investment in the workforce?
  • Should we be measuring productivity in retail, and if so, how?
  • What innovative techniques can employers experiment with to boost employee engagement and to create more meaningful jobs?
  • How can responsible retailers take leadership on progressive employment practice?

We will be hearing from the following speakers:

Anna Gowdridge is Head of People at Virgin Unite. Anna leads the 100% Human at Work Initiative, a network of businesses including Etsy, Nike and H&M who are developing new business models focused on helping their people reach their potential, and thereby boost the bottom line. The initiative was devised by The B Team, Richard Branson’s global group of business leaders pushing the private sector to deliver social, environmental and economic benefit.

Paul Hunter is Head of Research at the Smith Institute where he leads the institute’s work on the productivity puzzle. In March the institute published a report on what productivity means to employees and how it can be improved, finding that too many workers feel they are working ‘harder, not smarter’. The survey included a strand of respondents from the retail sector.

Tess Lanning is Head of Business Development at the Living Wage Foundation, where she leads on the development of new tools, evidence and strategies to improve job quality in retail and other low-wage industries. Previously Tess worked as policy adviser to the leader of the opposition on all matters relating to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Dan Murphy is a Partner at Kurt Salmon. Over a 35 year retail career, Dan has worked in a number of senior operational roles at major UK retailers and in advisory and board roles with retailers across the world. Dan is co-author of Retail Therapy, a book on the challenges faced by large retailers, and has recently written for Retail Week and Drapers on how retailers can transition to a higher pay, higher productivity model in the post-National Living Wage landscape.

You can find more information about the Fabian Society’s retail taskforce and listen to a recording of the first hearing here.


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