Most of the sustainability and social issues we face can’t be resolved by a single organisation, or by implementing one solution. Businesses, governments, NGOs and consumers must all contribute to achieve fundamental shifts on specific challenges. We frequently advocate a specific position or approach to an issue in order to promote wide-scale change at the right pace – focusing on public policy and thought leadership.
Public policy can set guiding principles and general direction, offer incentives, and prompt legislation to make change easier. Conversely, it can provide obstacles to a better future. It’s important that pro-sustainability businesses speak out and take action to influence public policy and practice in ways that result in stronger sustainability outcomes.
Contributing to thought leadership is important to ensure that the retail sector transforms itself as quickly as possible. We’ve learnt many lessons from Plan A and we readily share practical insights with other retailers.
Commitments and targets
Our ambition is to accelerate change by leading with others. We’re committed to engaging with governments, both directly and indirectly through industry groups, trade bodies and the third sector.
We aim to help shape public policy that’s relevant to our business interests, and to the retail sector.
We’re committed to share practical insights and knowledge to help others refine their ideas and develop effective sustainability solutions.
We champion sustainability and choice in the development of economic, environment and social policy. We’re politically neutral and make no donations to political parties.
We’re focused on six areas that we believe are most crucial to delivering our ambitions: demonstrating the business case for sustainability; climate change; deforestation; product sustainability; circular economy; and enhancing the lives of people and communities.
We’re also involved in other policy areas that are relevant to us. These include: the environment; employment and skills; consumer affairs and trading; food; finance and tax; and planning and trade.
We advocate on issues in many different ways and many different levels, from local communities through to international forums. We focus on: media work, consultation responses, political engagement, and participation in multi-stakeholder activities.
We try to advocate openly and constructively, in line with our values and aims. We take the views of other stakeholders – for example customers and employees – into account when we develop our views about policy.
Our definition of advocacy covers public policy and thought leadership positions:
|Public policy advocacy |
We engage with a number of political audiences, primarily the UK Government and Parliament, the EU Commission and Parliament, and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We only employ political consultants to provide background support – they don’t make representations on our behalf.
In responding to government consultations, we prefer to support trade bodies, such as the British Retail Consortium or the CBI. Whenever we make a formal individual response, we publish it.
|Thought leadership advocacy |
We engage with many organisations, including Consumer Good Forum, Business in the Community, Aldersgate Group, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, to support their objectives on specific sustainability issues.
Below is an outline of some of the advocacy activity that we have been involved with and some examples where we have been particularly engaged within the last year: