Asda is one of the UK’s largest supermarket chains, which retails food, clothing, general merchandise, toys and financial services. Asda is a wholly owned subsidiary of the American retail company Walmart.
Asda firmly believe that in order to achieve a competitive edge, their colleagues need to be from varied backgrounds and need to work innovatively as part of an inclusive culture.
Asda commissioned Global Diversity Practice initially for a series of Unconscious Bias workshops to ‘upskill’ their senior leaders on Diversity and Inclusion, focusing specifically on gender balance and the potential effect that Unconscious Bias can have on decision making, with particular reference to recruitment and succession planning. This then led to the development of the Ethnicity Strategy 2014 and the subsequent cascade of a Leadership Program primarily for women and ethnic minority leaders.
Following tailored Unconscious Bias workshops with a focus on gender balance & decision making, as well as delivery of Open Minds sessions to directors and their regional teams, Asda commissioned Global Diversity Practice to develop their Ethnicity Strategy 2014, which led to the subsequent development of the Ethnicity Leadership Programme.
The program was designed to develop the skills of BAME colleagues with a focus on challenges relevant to their performance and progression in the workplace, covering topics such as Authentic Leadership, Resilience, Personal Impact & Networking. This in turn should lead to enhancing the diversity and inclusivity of their employees across all levels of the organisation.
Ethnicity Strategy and Open Minds
Global Diversity Practice designed and delivered a unique interactive 3 hour “Open Minds” session for all the Directors and the Regional teams, both in HR and Operations. The focus of this was to understand and buy in to the launch of their 2013 ‘Women in Leadership’ Initiative. This was then cascaded throughout the organisation.
The Regional Managers ran a cascade session with all the Store Managers who in turn ran sessions with their teams to over 10,000 retail managers.
Following the successful cascade of the Unconscious Bias workshops, Asda sustained the interest and momentum behind the Diversity & Inclusion discussions by commissioning Global Diversity Practice to design, develop and deliver a number of their Ethnicity Strategy deliverables. These included:
- Design a Community Liaison Toolkit for ASDA Executives and ROMs
- Produce a Family Engagement Pack of marketing materials for key ethnic minority communities and families of BAME graduates
- Conduct an equality assessment and adverse impact review of the Asda Careers website
- Deliver a Train the Trainers session to ASDA leaders to allow for cascading D&I Training
- Review recruitment and progression documents and processes to identify adverse impact, unconscious bias and provide recommendations and solutions to combat these.
- Design and delivery of three modules for Asda’s Ethnicity Leadership Programme 2014-2015 (Authentic Leadership, Resilience, Personal Impact & Networking).
Global Diversity Practice designed and delivered three training modules to ASDA BAME colleagues: Authentic Leadership, Resilience, and Personal Impact & Networking.
The workshops were interactive and participative, incorporated pre- and post-work, and handbooks for participants to personally manage their development. After each module, participants incorporated their learning, tools and strategies for further gains into their Individual Development Plans.
Participants on the Authentic Leadership module:
- Developed an understanding of an authentic & inclusive leaders’ characteristics, behaviours and values that enhance engagement & colleague performance.
- Analysed how their own unique strengths, values and behaviours can influence engagement & performance
- Practised and theoretically applied the authenticity techniques they had learnt.
Participants on the Resilience module:
- Developed an understanding of their personal resilient energy, strengths and undermining beliefs
- Analysed how they can use their resilient strengths in the workplace
- Developed an understanding of how ‘mind-talk’ can undermine or strengthen resilience
- Explored tools to enhance their resilience and put them into practice.
Personal Impact & Networking
Participants on the Personal Impact & Networking Module:
- Developed an understanding of their own personal impact and how they could improve it
- Evaluated and analysed their current network
- Learnt and demonstrated powerful introductions and enhanced storytelling skills
- Explored key tools to support the development of their personal impact and networking skills
- Practised and theoretically applied personal impact and networking skills that they learnt.
Each of the module concluded with colleagues further adding to their Personal Development Plans and reflecting on their journey through the programme, with an emphasis on deploying the skills they had learnt into their day-to-day operations.
The feedback from these sessions was positive in being both thought provoking and heightening awareness of unconscious behaviours that could be creating barriers to female development within the company.
The first year of the ‘Women in Leadership’ programme saw the representation of female store managers increase by 4%. The percentage of female employees ready for directorship also jumped up to 67%.
85% of female employees agreed that ‘I have the opportunity to progress if I want to’, 16 points higher than the retail benchmark. Additionally, over 1,000 women have now attended inspirational careers events in stores and depots, and there has been excellent feedback.
Asda have seen a higher level of engagement and commitment from those leaders with the greatest influence on a change in the talent pipeline and a subsequent increase in women in senior leadership roles. Due to the increasingly visible benefits, Asda have decided to prioritize their D&I efforts through expanding the Women in Leadership program for the second year and launching an Ethnicity Leadership program. Both programs are designed to help minority leaders to understand the challenges and develop techniques to overcome barriers to their progression, as well as providing mentoring support on a ‘Pay It Forward’ basis which gives current participants of the program the opportunity to mentor next year’s delegates.
Common themes that arose in the qualitative feedback were that delegates enjoyed the interactive and participative nature of the training, commended the facilitators, and came away from the sessions feeling they had learnt something truly valuable.
- 100% of participants felt they could use their understanding of the subject matter to improve their own behaviour
- 100% of participants came away from the training feeling they had a clear understanding of the challenges they face, and of behaviours, techniques and habits they can apply to enable themselves to overcome those challenges
- 99% of participants were confident that their learning from the modules will help them achieve the goals they had set for themselves and identify new goals
- The content of the training, the materials used and the style of the trainer met or exceeded 100% of delegates’ expectations.
“In short I can highly recommend Farrah for providing an insightful, thought provoking sessions which she will tailor to your organisation and which truly does make a difference to the way leaders think and behave. The unconscious Bias online testing allows individuals to look at themselves in more detail and work through how they will become more inclusive. In terms of the Unconscious Bias online testing Farrah provided results by each sample group and then by the Asda population in order that we could make informed decisions about how to approach diversity, understanding any unconscious bias effect that may exist ,and work through how they will become more inclusive going forward through the Coaching Calls.”
Head of Diversity and Inclusion