How Tesco champions equality
“I’m proud to be the first black Tesco store manager to go on to manage a fulfilment centre,” says Essex-based Bernard Osei-Tutu, 34.
He has also taken on the role of lead for diversity and inclusion across Tesco’s six fulfilment centres. (The places where your online Tesco shopping happens.)
“As part of the role, I’ll be involved in various mentoring programmes and also highlighting Stress Awareness Month. At my site in Erith, Kent, we’re creating a room with dimmed lights and soft music where colleagues can meditate or simply take a 15-minute break.”
This is just one of many projects featured in Tesco’s recent Everyone’s Welcome report.
Backed by Jason Tarry, CEO for the UK and Ireland, the report focuses on improving diversity and inclusion, and creating a more supportive workplace for all colleagues – irrespective of gender, ethnicity, disabilities, preferences or beliefs.
Tesco are really moving diversity and inclusion in the right direction.
“Ten years ago, it still felt there was a long way to go,” Osei-Tutu says.
“But Tesco are really moving diversity and inclusion in the right direction.”
It was Osei-Tutu’s mum, Naomi – a cash clerk at a Tesco in Wimbledon – who first mentioned working at Tesco when he was in sixth form.
She was fed up with finding him lazing around on his days off school.
“I was only 16, so it was a lot of fun and my colleagues were great, more like a family, really. It was the first time I felt like an independent person, earning my own money and not having to be so reliant on mum.”
Starting with four hours on a Saturday, he eventually became a store manager and won Retail Week’s Rising Star Store Manager of the Year Award in 2015.
“Receiving the award was the highlight of my career. The event was awesome and I still have the trophy on my mantlepiece.
“Looking back over the past 18 years, that’s been the best thing about working for Tesco,” he adds.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, as long as you’ve got the right mindset, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.”
That has certainly been the case for Louise Maine, 47, manager of 64 drivers and 80-plus pickers for Tesco’s online hub in west Wales.
Maine lives with borderline personality disorder and dyslexia, and spent much of her twenties in and out of hospital.
An important part of her treatment was securing a job and 15 years ago she started working five hours a week in the Milford Haven store, not far from her home in Haverfordwest.
Just 18 months later, she became the store manager.
“With a borderline diagnosis, you don’t associate yourself with your emotions,” explains Maine, currently on paternity leave after she and her wife became parents in the spring after a five-year IVF journey.
“There were so many years when I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin because I didn’t really know who or what I was.”
Now, Maine is part of Tesco’s LGBTQ+ Colleague Network – one of six colleague networks across the company, ensuring everyone has a voice.
“Things have definitely changed during my time at Tesco,” she says.
“I feel like I’ve grown into myself and I can always find someone to talk to if I’m having a bad day. Tesco want me to be me.”
Jordon Watson, 30, lives in Chesham and joined Tesco’s buying team four years ago.
He is now an assistant buyer for styling, colourants and world beauty.
As a self-described “big extrovert”, Watson was initially apprehensive about a career with a large, multinational company like Tesco.
“I wondered whether I’d be able to bring my true self to work, but Tesco encouraged me to appreciate my outgoing personality and what it can bring to the team. A big part of my job is building good relationships with people and that’s something I’ve always been good at.”
Although he started his Tesco journey in the food section, Watson’s move into colourants, styling and world beauty was prompted by his own family’s difficulties in finding black haircare products on the high street.
“My cousins talked about brands that are massive in independent stores but not available in supermarkets, so I knew there was room for improvement,” Watson says.
“With Tesco’s help, I want to make those products accessible to everyone.”
I’m very proud of the fact that we as an organisation are creating opportunities and supporting colleagues to fulfil their potential and aspirations.
Tesco’s chief people officer, Emma Taylor, has been with the company since 2002, having joined as a store management trainee through Tesco’s graduate scheme.
She has also been heavily involved in the Everyone’s Welcome report.
“I’m very proud of the fact that we as an organisation are creating opportunities and supporting colleagues to fulfil their potential and aspirations.
“Our core belief is that we should be reflective of the communities we serve and that everybody should be treated how they want to be treated at Tesco. Whoever you are, whatever your ambition and whatever part work plays in your life, we want you to be able to realise your goals working at Tesco.”
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