Unlocking growth through leadership and culture

Nick Gladding
Senior Retail Analyst

Date : 07 November 2019

As part of the final session of the first day of IGD Live, speakers shared how their organisations were taking steps to become more inclusive, customer-focused and willing to change to drive growth.

Making inclusion and diversity and inclusion mission critical

From Coca-Cola European Partners, Leendert den Hollander and Catherine Gillespie, outlined how the company had radically changed its approach to inclusiveness over the last five years to make sure its workforce and values fully reflect the diversity of society. Coca-Cola started out with a network to empower female talent but concluded that this was too inward looking. Instead, it went on to develop a diversity and inclusion philosophy to motivate people across the business.


Key to this were exercises to build awareness and understanding of inclusion, including workshops to explore what made people feel vulnerable and the appointments of inclusion ambassadors to create change across all job functions. This work has embedded the inclusion and diversity philosophy throughout the business with its call to “Be yourself, be valued and belong.” They stressed there was no silver bullet to implement the philosophy but by championing it through several incremental projects, it is improving business performance and resulting in better recruitment.

Brands as a force for good

Matt Close of Unilever’s global ice cream business talked about how brands can become a force for good and have a positive impact on people or the environment. He spoke of how the business had shifted its approach to innovation, from product changes to the customer experience. Unilever has changed its processes to encourage bottom up experimentation so that it could learn like a start-up.

A new approach to risk was also adopted: explore, incubate and scale up. Also, a more purpose-led approach was embedded in all aspects of its business to create positive changes around the world, such as through its Vanilla for Change programme which has been shown to drive brand preference.

Growth through partnerships and collaboration

Andrew Higginson, chairman of Morrisons, shared his thoughts on how collaboration with a variety of third-party retailers had become a key part of the retailer’s growth strategy. He shared insights around Morrisons online strategy and how it had partnered with Amazon to make its products more widely available online and complement the morrisons.com offer through Ocado.

He was also candid about Morrisons need to work with third parties such as McColl’s and Rontec to build a presence in the convenience channel and overcome the cost structures resulting from its supermarket-focused operating model. He finished by speaking about how Morrisons unique culture and people focus has allowed it to radically improve performance despite a big reduction in head office head count.

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