Tesco Corporate Responsibility Review 2005

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This year we slightly exceeded our target of retaining 80% of staff with more than a year’s experience.

At the beginning of 2004 we set out to improve the workplace by strengthening delivery of our People Promises. We have achieved four aims:

to develop store structures to better meet the needs of both customers and staff;

to provide our leaders with coaching to support their teams better;

to get more people in to work more of the time;

to reduce our management vacancies down to a minimum.


Our people are our most important asset, and a key objective is to select and retain the best. We therefore offer our staff an attractive benefits package, including flexible hours and leave, profit-share, an award-winning defined benefit pension, subsidised meals and childcare vouchers.

Through our Privilege Card scheme, all staff with over 12 months’ service receive a 10% discount on their shopping at Tesco. They are also able to take advantage of discounts at Tesco.com, on our financial products, holidays, gym membership, childcare vouchers and health cover. Each staff member receives a Benefits Book annually to explain all the benefits they can take advantage of, and a personal Benefits Report summarising their total package. This year 160,000 staff shared £63 million in profits. Click here for more information on our employee share schemes.

‘Tesco staff are fortunate in that Tesco’s pension system is one of the best in the retail sector.’
Gordon Lishman, CEO, Age Concern England.

Careers & training

This year, Tesco became the first retailer to be accredited to award NVQs.

Careers & training

We are committed to developing our people to fulfil their potential. This year over 2,000 people in our stores have progressed into management positions. 95% of retail staff were trained to our ‘bronze’ level of competency.

All our staff have access to training programmes and a personal development plan, with six-monthly reviews, to ensure that they have the right skills for their job. Tesco delivers an extensive programme of learning through the Tesco Academy. This offers everyone in the company learning that is tailored to their own personal development needs – from induction and core skills to operational and leadership skills.

Following a successful trial apprenticeship scheme in three stores in the Midlands, we created a further 480 apprenticeships across the UK in late 2004. As well as providing formal training at local colleges, this pioneering partnership with the Government apprenticeship scheme gives 16-24 year-old staff experience of working in different parts of our stores and warehouses. Tesco managers check on progress, coach and assess candidates. The apprentices are then externally certified by City and Guilds.

This year we were the first British retailer to have our in-house training accredited by the Qualification and Curriculum Authority, which means that we can now award nationally-recognised NVQ qualifications to our staff as part of our retail apprenticeship scheme. In the coming year, we plan to extend the apprenticeship scheme to staff over the age of 24.

‘We demand high standards from our accredited organisations, and have been impressed by the Tesco approach to training and development. The retailer has real energy and desire to give its people every opportunity to get on, and we look forward to working closely with them to help achieve this.’
Edwina McQueen, Head of Business Development, City & Guilds.

Our commitment to training and development is also important in our international businesses. For example, in Poland, 100% of store directors are of local origin. On average each staff member in Poland has completed three different training modules.


Last year, we launched Debut, a programme to encourage students working at Tesco in the UK to stay on with us after completing their studies, as well as to attract other graduates and young people. Our website www.tesco.com/debut offers on-line training and development, financial guidance, discounts and career advice to help 16-24 year-olds through the transition from full-time education to full-time careers. So far, 21,071 students have become members of Debut, and we have launched our Debut Clearing House scheme, which organises transfers for students between their home stores and stores local to their university.

Human rights

In 2002 we introduced a group-wide human rights policy, addressing employment conditions including wages, hours, freedom of association, health and safety, discrimination, child labour and security.

The Chief Executive of each national business is responsible for implementing this policy. We support the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organisation’s Core Conventions. Our human rights policy can be found at www.tesco.com/corporate

We support the right of all our employees to join a trade union. Around half of our UK employees are members of a union. Since 1998 we have had a pioneering partnership agreement with Usdaw, which has become a model for employer-union relationships in the UK. Staff Forums are held in all stores three times a year in conjunction with Usdaw. In the last year we have worked with Usdaw on a Freedom from Fear campaign to raise awareness of the verbal and physical abuse that can be suffered by shopworkers, and to promote respect and improve safety in the retail workforce.

We have issued all managers in the UK, as well as our overseas CEOs, with our code of ethics, which governs relationships between employees, suppliers and contractors, and refers to our human rights policy.

We have a confidential Protector Line for our staff to ring. This helps us be more aware of, and take action against, potential problems like theft, dishonesty and any practices that endanger our staff, customers or the environment.

Health and safety

We are committed to protecting the health and safety of our people, our customers, and our visitors as far as is reasonably practical. Our aim is to eliminate preventable accidents and ill health associated with our work and premises, and to reduce the rate of reportable accidents as the business grows.

We have a comprehensive risk management process to identify and minimise occupational health and safety risks across the business. We constantly monitor and review our performance and seek feedback from our people. Every store measures health and safety performance and reports on it three times a year through the Staff Forum. Safety campaigns are launched three times a year at Staff Forums to focus our people on how we can improve safety in our stores.

We have successfully reduced the rate of reportable staff accidents in our stores over the past five years. We are introducing improved measures for assessing risk and reducing accident numbers as the size and nature of the business develops.


Caroline Sithele Coventry Extra, UK
Steve Cross Coventry Extra, UK


Inclusivity and diversity benefit our business in many ways, especially through fostering greater customer and staff loyalty. Studies show that organisations with best practice diversity policies tend to outperform on operational and business levels. A copy of our equal opportunities policy can be found at www.tesco.com/corporate

This year the Board asked our Diversity Advisory Group to analyse the diversity of Tesco’s UK workforce compared with the UK population – our aim being to mirror the composition of the population as a whole.

The Diversity Advisory Group found that we need to increase the proportion of:

  • female store managers and senior team members;
  • store managers and senior team members from ethnic groups;
  • 45-54 year-old store managers and senior team members.

We have consequently set targets to increase the proportion of women, ethnic groups and older staff in these positions and are planning to achieve them by providing improved coaching and mentoring, providing foreign language tapes for staff training, improving communication to celebrate success, and by conducting research to identify further short and long-term solutions. New ideas emerging from this research may be fast-tracked; and we are introducing a KPI to measure our performance on diversity over the coming year.

We have done more to make our jobs more attractive to people from ethnic minorities. This year, for example, during Ramadan we changed the time of store activities to allow staff time to pray, and promoted use of the staff training room as a quiet space for this purpose. We encouraged stores to look at flexible leave so that staff could take time off for the Indian festival of Diwali. During Diwali, staff organised celebrations in store, wore traditional dress, and brought in home-cooked food to share in the canteen. We are increasingly looking at language needs in our stores, for example, in our Beckton store staff briefings are held in four languages – Hindi, Urdu, Bangladeshi and English.


We aim to be a family-friendly employer, giving mothers in particular the most favourable employment terms possible. We offer family-friendly shift patterns, maternity leave for all, paid paternity leave, equal training and development opportunities for part-time workers, and a career break scheme. Where practical, our staff are able to job-share, work flexi-time or compressed hours, shift swap, work from home or work part-time. We offer childcare vouchers to all staff, whether full or part-time, and these can be used for most types of childcare. Last year we took part in the DTI Work-Life Balance Challenge Fund and ideas arising from this have been implemented in our flexible working request policy.


Research tells us that 14% of our UK workforce have some kind of disability, compared to a national average of 13%. We are working with the UK Government agency Remploy and with the Shaw Trust, which both act as ‘job brokers’ for disabled jobseekers, to reach out to more disabled people. We now have nearly 100 people supported in work by these two agencies. We are members of the Employers’ Forum on Disability.

Older staff

Peter Gill Newcastle Extra, UK

Our work on supporting both younger and older workers lead to us winning the Personnel Today 2004 Age Positive Award.

Older staff

We have long recognised the benefits of a mixed-age workforce, and our research has shown that older employees are more loyal and less prone to absenteeism. We were one of the first companies to positively encourage the recruitment of the 50+ age group. We are members of the Employers Forum on Age, and are an Age Positive champion under the scheme run by The Department for Work and Pensions. We won the Personnel Today 2004 Age Positive Award for our work on supporting both younger and older workers in the workplace.

Employee age diversity