East Croydon Cool talks…Conscious Capitalism and CSR

East Croydon Cool talks…is a blog series that explores topics of cultural interest via local area experts. Whilst we’ve tried not to start another blog post referencing the Pandemic, its impact continues to affect pretty much every aspect of life – so here we are again…

There’s no doubt that the global event has changed people’s attitude towards the world around us. An initial focus on individual wellbeing soon shifted to a wider concern for the planet and society as a whole. And the altruistic spirit we all witnessed during lockdowns (alongside the increase in consumers making environmentally friendly, sustainable or ethical purchases) has helped accelerate the pre-pandemic trend of ‘Conscious Capitalism’.

The term was originally coined back in 2013 by Whole Foods co-founder and co-CEO John Mackey and marketing professor and speaker Raj Sisodia. Their book (Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business) discussed a “new way of thinking about capitalism and business that better reflects where we are in the human journey, the state of our world today, and the innate potential of business to make a positive impact on the world.”

In recent years, with Conscious Capitalism leading a drive for greater accountability to all stakeholders (including employees, society, and the environment) many businesses have expanded their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.

Keen to understand more, we spoke with Croydon local, Caroline King. Caroline is the Head of People at Superdrug; the second-largest beauty and health retailer in the UK (with it’s Head Office based here in Croydon). With a turnover of nearly $2 billion and over 13k employees, Superdrug run an award-winning CSR programme. Last year, they also launched their first CSR report, a landmark moment to spearhead progressive change.

What brought about the ‘Doing Good, Feels Super’ CSR Report?
Superdrug has had a long-standing commitment to CSR, or what we like to call ‘Doing Good Feels Super’. For many years now, we have been exploring ways we can make more conscious decisions as a business, but also help our customers do the same. While we are looking at ways to reduce waste, reduce single use plastic and building stores more consciously, we’ve also been working to help our customers be able to make shopping choices that can be more sustainable and affordable. We know that at times, shopping sustainably may have been viewed as more expensive and less available to all, and we think we’re in a really great position to challenge that. But it’s not just about products, our CSR plans have always included the impact we have on our communities up and down the country – from charity partnerships to product donations during the COVID 19 pandemic. We like to think we’ve always been busy when it comes to CSR, but we’d never pulled it all together to be able to show, customers, our teams and the industry “ta daa – this is what we’ve done”, so we did! Our report has had a big impact on the teams at Superdrug. In addition to giving us a chance to reflect on what’s been achieved, it’s also got us thinking ‘what’s next?’

CSR is a huge topic – how do you structure the work that you do?
Our CSR plans all link back to the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ that were set by the UN, back in 2015. These goals were originally set for countries and governments to commit too, but it turned out they were also relevant to how companies, like Superdrug, were viewing sustainability. We’ve taken inspiration from these, and have created our ‘Doing Good Feels Super’ focuses/pillars:

Our Community: We are a consistent and reliable form of support for our customers and the communities that we serve. We recognise that the services we provide are important to the community that are able to make a difference to national health, wellbeing and futures.

Our Customers: We love our customers, they are at the centre of everything we do. We’re committed to providing them with the best health & beauty experiences possible, making sure they feel seen and represented across all of our channels, whether in store or online.

Our People: We nurture and develop talent across our teams, making sure they feel supported and included at all times. Our people make us who we are!

Our Planet: We champion the belief that accessible retail shouldn’t cost the earth. Consistently meeting the best environmental practices means that all of us are able to respect the planet through the choices that we make.

How important is it for businesses to have a CSR programme in place?
It’s become more important than ever for us at Superdrug. Not only are we aware of the need to make better decisions for the planet and communities we are part of, we’re also conscious that it can’t be something that only happens once a year. That’s why CSR sits within our entire business strategy, it impacts everything we do. We also know that it’s something that our customers and teams care about. Through research we’ve done with Superdrug customers, we know they are wanting to shop in a more sustainable way and learn how to make those switches.

In terms of the Community pillar, what have been some of the big successes you’ve had in this area?
We’re really proud of the impact we’ve been able to have on the charities we support. We’re on track to have raised £10 million for Marie Curie before the end of the year. Our teams and customers have donated huge amounts of product to Beauty Banks (to support those facing hygiene poverty). This year we’re sponsoring Croydon Pride which the Head Office teams can’t wait for! There’s so much to talk about when it comes to Community, including how our Pharmacists play a crucial role on their High Street and the work they did for the COVID-19 vaccination programme, but what’s important is that we understand the value of Community and being part of something. It’s important to us as a team and as business.

And tell us more about the Customers pillar
We hold customer listening sessions throughout the year and they influence the decisions we make that impact our customers. From inclusive shopping experiences to products our customers are passionate about, we are always exploring ways to support what our customers are passionate about. Our service is about being kind and helpful to our customers, we’re always looking for ways to do that better.

What initiatives have you run as part of the People pillar?
We want the people that work for us to feel a sense of belonging, understand their role, know what success looks and feels like and what opportunities there are for them to grow. Our initiatives aim to support this, from our inclusion networks to employee wellbeing. Our apprenticeship scheme has been running for 15 years now, at all levels and across many different areas of the business, it’s amazing to see apprentices now working as Store Managers.

What impact has been made through the Planet pillar?
We have over 1600 vegan products in our Own Brand ranges. Last year, we re-launched our B.Skin range and we’ve looked at sustainability from every angle, from formulas to packaging. We’re also signed up to the RSPO to only source sustainable palm oil for any products and we are also part of the New Plastics Economy, as the first retailer committing to changing how we approach packaging. We’re always working on clearly communicating to customers how they can recycle packaging or what the sustainable swaps they could make for some of their day to day essentials. We know its about forming new habits that will last, we know we have a responsibility to our customers to help them do this.

What are the key focuses for the coming 5 years?
We’ve always got something we’re going after, but some of the key ones are:

  • Raising £10 million for Marie Curie
  • Becoming a disability confident level 2 employer
  • Phasing out plastic bags in all stores (we’re almost there!) and using exclusively paper
  • Building sustainable stores. Not just sell sustainable products, but make sure we build our new stores with energy efficiency and less waste.

In what ways do you incorporate your Croydon location into your CSR activities?
We’ve always made sure we stay connected to the community we’re part of. Whether that’s local volunteering opportunities, supporting local business and suppliers for events or donations to local charities. We also ensure that we are always looking locally when it comes to the roles we have at our Head Office – with so many opportunities on offer, we like to think we’re never that far away from someone who could be perfect for the role!

What do you regard as the difference between Conscious Capitalism and CSR?
We know we can do more to lead the way when it comes to CSR and we’ll keep pushing to do better. We’re always learning and developing our ways of thinking across the business to make sure we’re making the best decisions we can, and that it aligns with what we strategically said we would do. The fact that we’re on the journey, that we acknowledge that we have more to do and that we’re transparent when it comes to how we are doing feels like the difference between the two.

If you’d like to learn more about Superdrug’s CSR programme CLICK HERE.

If you’d like to learn more about recruitment opportunities within the Croydon-based Head Office, CLICK HERE.

If you’d like to learn more about other recruitment opportunities with Superdrug stores, CLICK HERE.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close