We recognize building healthier, happier communities starts with healthy, happy employees. We strive to treat our people with dignity and respect and continue to invest in our employees through numerous initiatives and programs.
At WBA, we are committed to: proactively supporting the personal health and well-being of our employees, delivering on our commitment to equal opportunities, fostering a diverse and inclusive culture for all, and continuing to improve our robust approach to health, safety and data privacy.
We support the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
Supporting the health and well-being of our employees is always a priority for WBA. We are committed to developing and investing in our employees.
In fiscal 2020 we focused on supporting our employees during the pandemic, including through safety response and enhanced mental health support; continued investment in the growth and development of our people through online training; and wellness checks and always-on listening programs for employees to share feedback.
The COVID-19 pandemic did not change our philosophy on safety, which continues to be a top priority. But due to the unprecedented nature of COVID-19, we created new governance teams, policies and procedures.
In the U.S., Walgreens created a task force and pandemic response team that worked seven days a week to roll out trainings, conduct disease monitoring and surveillance, and establish and communicate COVID-19 employee compensation tools and support, including a Communicable Disease Policy and dozens of custom COVID-19 playbooks. The pandemic response team continues to respond to COVID-19 related cases through clinical intake, tracking and contact tracing, field response, record keeping and required legal notifications.
Boots UK created teams across all levels of the business that were focused on COVID-19 responses related to safety. They held regular calls to address the changing needs of different parts of the business including stores, clinical sites and corporate offices, as the pandemic evolved.
As a healthcare provider, we recognize building healthier, happier communities starts with healthy, happy employees. Supporting the health of our employees is always a priority for WBA, but the issue took on particular urgency during the pandemic, as many of our people work directly with patients and customers to provide essential services.
All of WBA’s businesses manage benefits and, where applicable, healthcare for employees at the national level, as laws and regulations vary by geography. Here, we cover our two largest employers: U.S.-based Walgreens and Boots UK, which together account for more than 80 percent of our 331,000 direct employees, as of Aug. 31, 2020.
Walgreens offers a comprehensive benefits package to full-time employees that generally includes: comprehensive medical and other healthcare benefits including the Life365 Employee Assistance Program (EAP), employer match of contributions to 401(k) defined contribution retirement account, paid time off and holidays, paid disability leave, paid parental leave, employee stock purchase program, life insurance and employee discount.
Part-time U.S. Walgreens employees are eligible for a number of benefits including Prescription Savings Club, annual flu shots, Life365 EAP, the PerkSpot employee discount program and others.
Boots UK offers a comprehensive range of benefits to full- and part-time employees. Using a flexible program, employees personalize benefits for their lifestyles across health and well-being, travel, financial and lifestyle categories. In addition to insurance and time off, Boots UK provides benefits such as an employee assistance program, loyalty awards, pension schemes and an employee discount.
The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic intensified the need to provide our employees with tools and resources focused on mental and behavioral health and well-being. We built on existing commitments and programs designed to help in identifying issues of mental health and foster a culture of confidence that encourages important conversations in the workplace.
Walgreens medical and prescription drug plans include comprehensive mental health care for eligible employees. In addition, Life365 provides no-cost, confidential behavioral health support for all employees and their immediate household to help manage daily stressors.
Walgreens also offers MDLIVE for employees and covered partners enrolled in a medical plan, which allows employees to access a doctor remotely around the clock.
Similarly, Boots accelerated focus on its proactive and preventive well-being strategy amid the pandemic.
In fiscal 2020, Books UK worked to provide fingertip access to a suite of mental health and wellness resources by piloting new ways to reach employees and centralizing tools in a new Well-Being Hub on its intranet sites. The business introduced Weekly Well-being Communication to emphasize existing tools and learnings amid COVID-19 and implemented live webinars on well-being topics in collaboration with its employee assistance partner, Lifeworks. Additionally, in fiscal 2020 Boots completed the roll out of its Well-being Action Plan, enabling more proactive and action-focused dialogue between employees and line managers about their emotional health needs.
As part of Boots UK’s focus on mental health awareness and prevention, the business signed the Time to Change employer pledge, committing the business to think and act differently about mental health.
We recognize that investing in our employees financially contributes to their overall well-being, particularly during the pandemic with increased financial strain.
In 2020, Walgreens identified emotional well-being, legal and financial support as the top reasons that employees accessed the Life365 program. In the early months of the year, the benefits team quickly launched a COVID-19 tool kit and resources, including five free counseling sessions, information about government assistance under the CARES Act and retirement savings plan changes.
Walgreens paid a one-time COVID-19 stipend for employees below the management level at stores and distribution centers, which provided $300 to full-time employees and $150 to those working under 30 hours per week. Walgreens rolled out benefits to support time off related to the virus, including payment of up to 14 days for COVID-19 related leave. The business also relaxed its attendance policy for certain at-risk employees and those facing childcare concerns due to closures.
Boots UK supported furloughed employees by maintaining regular communication and providing support to their managers via a Leader Guide, to ensure they remained connected during their period of furlough. Boots also recognized front-line employees with a thank you gift card for £150 ($190) (gross) for full-time and £75 ($95) for part-time employees who worked under 30 hours per week.
In fiscal 2020, Boots UK also partnered with financial wellness company Salary Finance to provide access to a financial education tool that allows all employees to pay off loans directly through salary reductions, helping them avoid high-interest debt. Due to the pandemic’s unexpected implications, Boots also reopened its holiday buying program to allow employees to alter their choices to fit their most immediate needs.
We understand that listening to our employees is the most effective way to foster a great place to work – which translates directly to our business success.
To listen effectively, WBA conducts a bi-annual global employee engagement survey, Our Voice. Our Future., launched in September 2019. The initial surveys revealed exceptional employee perception of purpose, performance feedback, career path development and corporate citizenship. Results were implemented at an organizational level by global divisions and communicated to managers to drive action plans at local levels.
In place of the March 2020 engagement survey, WBA deployed a COVID-19 Wellness Check to allow employees to share feedback on their well-being and perceived level of support during the pandemic. Additionally, WBA launched an Always Listening program that allows employees to share feedback on their engagement and work experience in real time, allowing more agility in tracking employee engagement.
A diverse, equitable and inclusive organization is an essential part of WBA’s business strategy.
The racial equity movement that swept the U.S. and other countries in 2020 has intensified our commitment to fairness and equality in our workplace and in our communities.
Our global workplace encompasses a broad range of cultures, backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. For us, inclusion means we are empowered to bring our authentic selves in an open, welcoming and equitable workplace, and we believe that actively fostering an inclusive environment is our responsibility as a global employer. We are committed to accountability and transparency in this area.
A diverse, equitable and inclusive organization is an essential part of WBA’s business strategy. We understand that actively fostering DE&I directly impacts business performance and as a global employer, helping to advance DE&I is our responsibility. Engagement with these issues allow us to support our communities and remain relevant to our customers and patients.
With more than 331,000 direct employees in 17 countries, as of fiscal 2020, our workplace encompasses a broad range of cultures, backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. A diverse and inclusive culture positively impacts our performance, growth and employee engagement.
We are committed to accountability and transparency in this area and in fiscal 2020 published our first global WBA Diversity & Inclusion Report, covering fiscal years 2018 and 2019.
Our Global Inclusion Council (GIC), established in 2019 and comprised of 21 senior leaders from across our divisions and functions, helps to accelerate our DE&I culture throughout the company and to build and empower diversity at all levels. The council drives top-down accountability and engagement company-wide; helps bring an inclusive culture to life; guides actions to ensure inclusivity within talent management and talent acquisition; and supports actions to expand supplier diversity.
Our Leadership Accountability Model works to ensure that managers are accountable for recruitment, retention and development of people of color and women at every level of the organization. For fiscal years 2020 and 2021, the company’s goals were and are to achieve an annual increase of 3 percentage points in women in leadership positions across WBA and a 2 percentage point increase in people of color in leadership in the Retail Pharmacy USA division.
While we achieved an increase in both women and people of color in leadership in fiscal 2020, we are continuing to implement programs to recruit and promote diverse talent. A portion of bonus incentives for all bonus eligible employees will be linked to the company’s performance on the Leadership Accountability Model goals, beginning in fiscal 2021. We plan to report additional details on the Leadership Accountability Model in subsequent WBA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion reports.
Our 2020 CSR Report contains enhanced diversity data including gender diversity at the senior director level and above across WBA, racial and ethnic diversity at the senior director level and above in our U.S. businesses; and diversity metrics among our U.S. pharmacists.
The WBA board of directors recently appointed its first African-American woman director, providing further momentum to meet WBA’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals. The WBA board of directors has also amended WBA’s corporate governance guidelines to provide that when searching for new directors, they will actively seek out women and individuals from minority groups to include in the pool from which board nominees are chosen. As of October 29, 2020, diversity on our 11-member board was as follows: four women, one of whom is a person of color.
We believe supporting and employing people with disabilities is not just the right thing to do - it’s good for business. Walgreens continued its commitment to recruit and support employees with disabilities through the Transitional Work Group (TWG) and Retail Employees with Disabilities Initiative (REDI), training and job-readiness programs that bring a significant number of people with disabilities to work in Walgreens stores and distribution centers. These efforts contributed to Walgreens recognition for the fourth consecutive year with the top score of 100 percent on the 2020 Disability Equality Index (DE&I), a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices related to disability inclusion and workplace equality.
For the first time, our businesses in the UK now have a disability inclusion Business Resource Group (BRG) and we have signed up to the UK’s Business Disability Forum, to support further progress and expand on our Disability Confident: Committed status in Boots UK.
The Walgreens Helping Veterans with Educational and Retail Opportunities (HERO) program aims to provide career and educational opportunities for U.S. veterans. Walgreens established the program in November 2018 to help veterans transition leadership skills learned through military service into a retail management career.
The program provides retail management training and on-the-job mentorship with Walgreens leaders to help veterans on a career path to store management. As of Aug. 31, 2020, more than 470 shift leads and assistant store manager trainees across the U.S. had been hired in the program.
Through an exclusive partnership with Southern New Hampshire University, program participants also have the opportunity to receive tuition assistance and discounts to work toward a bachelor’s degree. Walgreens has a goal to hire 5,000 U.S. veterans to the program within five years from when it was launched and continues to actively work toward that goal, despite challenges due to the global pandemic and market conditions.