Understanding the views and values of all our stakeholders is critical to Burberry's success and we use a range of tools to foster an open dialogue with all of them.
We believe in fostering a sense of belonging among our people and ensuring they are active participants in our drive to fulfil our purpose. Our people are Burberry’s greatest asset, and it is vital that we continue to attract and retain the best talent. With our people adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic by working remotely, it is particularly important to ensure their perspectives are heard and that they continue to feel part of the broader organisation.
We have increased our Employee Engagement Surveys from once annually to three per year. Despite the impact of he pandemic, 89% of our people felt they had clear areas of focus and 86% agreed Burberry was doing a good job of keeping them connected to one another. We use insights from these surveys to action changes and improvements across the Group.
We communicate daily with our teams across the business to keep them informed and engaged. Written communications, videos and podcasts are made available via Burberry World, our global intranet. For example, we communicated extensively with our Sales Associates during the year, providing regular operational updates and training around our creative transition and new products. Major events, such as embedding Burberry’s purpose and moving our internal Icon Awards ceremony online, allowed for more inclusive, global engagement, with those events garnering over 6,000 views.
We are committed to ensuring our people are growing and developing personally and professionally. To foster a culture of forward-thinking, we want to equip all of our people to be set up for success. We encourage creative thinking around problem solving and making things happen, and provide tools and resources through our B-Learning site.
More information on Burberry’s progress towards a more diverse and inclusive workplace can be found on pages 69 to 72 of the Annual Report.
- Career development
- Operational efficiency
- Wellbeing and flexible working
- Fostering a diverse and inclusive culture
Global Workforce Advisory Forum: the Board has established a Global Workforce Advisory Forum. The purpose of the forum is to ensure meaningful two-way communication between the Board and the workforce in order to develop a greater understanding of their views when making decisions in the boardroom. The Global Workforce Advisory Forum is made up of representatives from a variety of roles globally and during FY 2020/21 it met twice to discuss a wide range of topics. These included colleague views on the Group’s response to the pandemic, changes to reward programmes made in 2020, and culture and how to speak up. Gerry Murphy, our Chairman, and Orna NíChionna, Non-Executive Director and Chair of the Remuneration Committee, represented the Board at both meetings and shared insights from the Forum meetings with the Board.These insights were particularly helpful to the Board in formulating the 2020 Directors’ Remuneration Policy and in their consideration of the Group’s response to the pandemic.
Employee Engagement Survey: the Board reviewed the results of the Employee Engagement Survey, and an overview of key trends for 2020. The Board gave particular focus to both the dimensions and demographics within the findings and discussed proposed actions and areas of opportunity.
Direct interaction: Burberry’s various colleague platforms allow the Board to interact with our people on a global scale. During the year, Non-Executive Directors Fabiola Arredondo, Ron Frasch and Orna NíChionna collaborated to produce a short film reflecting on the Company’s history and entrenched values. In March 2021, as part of our International Women’s Day celebrations, Fabiola and Orna, alongside fellow Non- Executive Directors Debra Lee and Dame Carolyn McCall participated in a webcast reflecting on the experiences that have helped shape their careers and the importance of representation, allyship and mentoring.
As the ultimate user of our products, our customers continue to look for quality products that reflect their personal style. They increasingly look to feel part of a community and seek out brands with a strong purpose.
We aim to offer our customers a holistic, omnichannel experience, where they can engage with our brand, our product, our communications and our people. We continue to harness insights to develop our understanding of luxury goods customers and enhance our customer proposition, ensuring we offer inspiration and opportunities to engage with Burberry across our platforms.
In the midst of the pandemic, we used digital innovation to mitigate the impact of reduced traffic in our store network. Our teams acted quickly to ensure we continued to deliver a luxury experience for our customers. In a matter of weeks, Burberry.com was set up to allow customers to book in-store appointments and gain online shopping assistance. For the UK and the USA we introduced video appointments with our Sales Associates who could browse products on behalf of their clients as if they were in store (see page 27 of the Annual Report). More information about Burberry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our customers can be found on pages 56 to 57 of the Annual Report.
In July 2020, we opened our first Social Retail store in Shenzhen, China, aiming to blend seamlessly the physical and social worlds by offering a digitally immersive retail experience (see pages 28 to 32 of the Annual Report). Later in 2020, we brought our Spring/Summer 2021 show outdoors, partnering with several livestreaming platforms around the world to broadcast the event.
Providing exceptional customer service and assistance is vital for any luxury brand. We look at ways to improve the assistance we offer to customers on an ongoing basis, including ensuring they are able to contact us at their convenience through their preferred medium, including phone, email, social media and Burberry.com chat. At present, we offer customer service assistance in 14 languages.
Burberry’s commitment to sustainability is longstanding, grounded in the belief that for our future growth, we need to actively address the challenges facing our industry and the world in which we live. Our customers are increasingly interested in sustainably sourced materials. For instance, in April 2020, we launched the “ReBurberry Edit”, comprising 26 styles from the Spring/Summer 2020 collection, all made from the latest innovations in sustainable material science. This was communicated across brand channels and through media engagement.
- Product innovation and newness
- Customer service and brand experience
- Addressing evolving customer habits and changes in buying patterns
- Environmental impact
Customer experience: as customers themselves, the Board regularly engages with the business across all of our channels. Insights are regularly discussed with management.
Customer insights: most of Burberry’s engagement with customers is at the operational level. The Board receives regular updates from the CEO and members of the senior management team on sales performance and brand heat. Updates are also shared in relation to evolving relationships with customers as we respond to market conditions and trends. These updates assist the Board in developing and maintaining its understanding of customer trends, as well as potential issues and how these could be addressed. During the year, the Board gave particular time and focus to ensure that the Company continued to engage with its customers safely.
At Burberry, we have a longstanding commitment to supporting our communities, through various programmes and initiatives designed to drive positive change.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect our communities, we worked closely with teams, partners and the Board to determine how we could best provide support. The Group’s response is being managed through five key workstreams chaired by the CEO and supported by the Board. As COVID-19 continues to impact us all, we maintain our commitment to supporting our communities through our broader relief efforts and via The Burberry Foundation COVID-19 Community Fund.
We support The Burberry Foundation (UK registered charity number 1154468) in creating long-term partnerships that drive positive change in our communities and help build a more sustainable future through innovation. Each year, we donate a percentage of Group adjusted profits before tax to charitable causes, which include long-term community programmes led by The Burberry Foundation and emergency efforts as they arise, such as disaster relief. Alongside contributions, employees are encouraged and supported in volunteering for charities and donating up to three working days a year to supporting their communities. Burberry supports match-funding towards team-based fundraising activities. Read more about this on pages 74 to 79 of the Annual Report.
In addition, we have continued to support our programmes, including Burberry Inspire and our creative arts scholarships, to ensure that future generations of talent, particularly from underrepresented communities, have the support they need to enter the creative industries.
- Positively impacting the communities living and working around us
- Employment within our communities
- Increased focus on ESG
Strategy updates: the Board receives regular updates on the implementation of The Burberry Foundation’s five-year strategy, which aims to positively impact 1 million people by 2022 by supporting community programmes, making financial contributions and encouraging employee volunteering. Sustainability Steering Committee: Burberry’s Sustainability Steering Committee, which was established in 2019, meets at least three times a year to oversee the Group’s strategy on environmental and social issues.
Sustainability Steering Committee: Burberry’s Sustainability Steering Committee, which was established in 2019, meets at least three times a year to oversee the Group’s strategy on environmental and social issues. The Sustainability Steering Committee is chaired by Burberry’s CEO, who is accountable or ensuring oversight of climate-related risks and opportunities. It is also attended by the CO&FO, who is also a member of the Leadership Network for the Accounting for Sustainability initiative.
Supporting communities: the Board understands the importance of sustainability in the fashion industry and receives updates on the sustainability initiatives and projects undertaken by the Group. More information on ESG can be found on pages 60 to 91. Further information on Burberry’s progress in meeting the recommendations of the TCFD can be found on pages 133 to 137 of the Annual Report.
The Burberry Foundation: the work of The Burberry Foundation is key to Burberry’s Responsibility agenda. In FY 2020/21, the Board agreed to donate £3.5 million of Group adjusted profits before tax to social and community causes worldwide, which include disaster relief, scholarships and long-term community programmes led by The Burberry Foundation. The Board also approved incremental charitable donations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic including donating PPE to the UK National Health Service and healthcare charities; supporting vaccine research and the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to some of the world’s most vulnerable people; and charities tackling food poverty.
The Burberry Foundation COVID-19 Community Fund: all members of the Board took a voluntary salary/fee cut of 20% for the first quarter and the Company paid an equivalent of that amount to The Burberry Foundation COVID-19 Community Fund, with our top management team also taking a 20% reduction in their salaries. The Burberry Foundation COVID-19 Community Fund was established for our employees to support communities in need globally. More details on the fund can be found on page 57 of the Annual Report.
We work with companies, NGOs, civil society groups, our suppliers and retail third parties. We believe in an open and collaborative business approach and we take pride in sharing knowledge and expertise to find solutions and opportunities for innovation.
Our ESG work contributes to a range of the United Nations SDGs. We feel Burberry is uniquely placed to make a positive difference. We recognise the power of working in collaboration to drive real change in the industry. We are focused on working together with industry peers, business partners and other key stakeholder groups to find long-term solutions and promote wider industry change. We pursue our ESG goals through strategic partnerships with NGOs, industry peers, initiatives and other businesses. For example, this financial year we continued our support of registered charities, including FareShare, The Trussell Trust and The Felix Project, which are dedicated to tackling food poverty across the UK. Read more about our COVID-19 efforts on pages 56 to 57 and our collaboration with Marcus Rashford MBE on page 43 of the Annual Report.
We nurture close relationships with members of our supply chain, including wholesalers, licensees and supply chain partners, on an ongoing basis to drive social and environmental improvements, focusing on every step in our sourcing and manufacturing processes.
To ensure a seamless customer experience across all consumer touchpoints, we collaborate with other companies to create the best experiences for our customers. For example, in FY 2020/21, the digital experience became more prominent where stores were unable to remain open and we collaborated with technology companies to enhance our customers’ online experience (read more on pages 32 to 35 of the Annual Report). We also continued to nurture close relationships with our wholesale and licensing partners through monthly and weekly updates to understand their product needs and ongoing preferences.
- Aligning with new customer behaviour, especially around e-commerce
- Increased focus on ESG
- COVID-19 relief support
- Driving collaboration and contributing to the United Nations SDGs
Environmental impact on operations: throughout the year, the Board receives updates on sustainability related matters, including those related to climate change. These were supported by insights from independent sustainability strategy consultants.
The TCFD Working Group, which was established to assess and implement the required governance and strategy for climate-related risks and opportunities, and the metrics and targets used to assess and manage these, reports to the Risk Committee, which is chaired by Julie Brown, our CO&FO. The Audit Committee discussed the work of the TCFD Working Group, including progress against the four pillars of governance, strategy, risk management and metrics and targets.
Ethical trading: the Board approved the Transparency in Supply Chains and Modern Slavery Statement, which widened the scope of the ethical trading programme to include packaging, visual merchandising and recycling facilities. More information on the Human Rights Statement can be found on page 80 of the Annual Report and our Modern Slavery Act Statement can be found here.
Governments influence long-term retail environments, environmental priorities, employment laws, trade and other business matters, which are all key areas for Burberry. We therefore regularly engage with governments in the countries where we operate to understand their concerns so we can seek solutions to shared environmental, social, economic and governance issues.
As part of the global response to the outbreak of COVID-19, Burberry dedicated resources to supporting those impacted by the disease and preventing further infection. We addressed immediate medical needs by leveraging our global supply chain, retooling our Castleford manufacturing site to make PPE. The British government called on Burberry to extend our support, which we offered to do at cost. We also supported communities by funding food supplies for vulnerable individuals through partnerships with food distribution charities. We also worked towards a longer-term solution to the global pandemic by helping to fund University of Oxford’s COVID-19 research. The research resulted in a vaccine developed with AstraZeneca which is now being used as part of vaccination programmes in several countries.
As part of our ongoing efforts to protect our brand, we connect with governments around the world as they influence long-term retail environments, environmental priorities, trade, IP, quality and payment and other business matters, which are all key areas for Burberry. We, therefore, regularly engage with governments in the countries where we operate to understand their challenges so we can seek solutions to shared environmental, social, economic and governance issues.
- Industry/product policies such as taxes, restrictions, trade and regulations
- Increased focus on ESG
Preparing for and post UK withdrawal from the EU: the Board receives regular updates and individual Board members have liaised directly with the UK government on key issues in relation to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Such topics include the VAT Retail Export Scheme, access to skills and talent and general challenges relating to cross-border movement.
The Board agreed to repay early and with interest the £300m funding secured in 2020 under the UK Government sponsored COVID Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) and committed to pay our UK business rates in full. More information on the Group’s response to COVID-19 is set out on pages 56 and 57 of the Annual Report.