Learning and development Engaging and empowering our employees

Learning and development is an essential part of engaging and empowering our employees if sustainability is to be something we do together, every day. We take a localised approach to our employee engagement on sustainability, which means we can focus on the issues that really matter in each region.

Our 2018 performance

Our in-store colleagues are the ambassadors of our sustainability approach to our customers, making them a particularly important audience for training and engagement on this topic. Every customer-facing campaign we run at C&A is supported by internal communications and engagement, allowing in-store colleagues to bring our messages to life for customers.

Supporting employees’ development

We aim to support our employees’ personal and career development while they are with C&A. Across our markets, we make e-learning available to our employees on core topics, and run management development programmes that deliver additional training to managers with outstanding performance and potential.

In 2018, specific employee training programmes included:

New hire orientation:

  • C&A Europe delivers a monthly orientation programme for new hires that familiarises new employees with the business and includes an introduction to our sustainability commitments and actions. In 2018, C&A Europe welcomed almost 200 new hires through this programme.
  • C&A China provided training to 100% of new employees on our Code of Ethics in 2018.

Function-specific sustainability training:

  • Our Sustainable Supply Chain (SSC) team in Europe continuously trains product teams on our SSC approach and their responsibility.
  • Europe provided a series of workshops for C&A Marketing staff to raise awareness about sustainability messaging to ensure accuracy and consistency in our external communications. This included awareness raising on greenwashing, the correct use of third-party logos and claims, as well as the appropriate use of #WearTheChange.
  • C&A Brazil held a training webinar on our gold level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirts and Jeans for employees at the 44 stores that received the products, and for customer service employees. We also held a training webinar on ‘we take it back’, our in-store take-back, now offered in 80 stores, to make sure employees were familiar with the take-back procedures.
  • C&A Brazil also hosted a day for trainees dedicated to rethinking product life cycle and sustainability, facilitated by the Re-Roupa movement, which has an approach to creating ‘upcycled’ clothes using small pieces of discarded fabric, or clothes with defects. 
  • Also in Brazil, we promote a learning journey programme that invites employees from the head office to join SSC auditors to visit and verify production units where our items are manufactured. In 2018, 45 employees took part in seven learning journeys.
  • C&A China delivered both online and offline sustainability training sessions to 77 employees.

Leadership and talent development:

  • At C&A Brazil, several programmes are dedicated to people development, such as:
    • Trainee Programme: designed to develop young talent to become Products or Store Managers. The 1.5-year programme exposes participants to several different development opportunities, including on-the-job training, classes, and participation in strategic projects. In 2018, 10 people joined the programme. Since 2012, 31 trainees have become Store Managers and 28 have become Product Managers.
    • Future Leaders Program: designed to prepare internal talent for a leadership position. During the 1.5-year programme, participants are exposed to several development opportunities, including classes, leading a strategic project, and others. In 2018, 29 employees participated from various departments, including Commercial, Operations, Legal, IT, Financial, Supply Chain, and HR.
    • Leadership Development Program: This two-day workshop is designed to develop C&A leadership (managers and above) by focusing on topics such as diversity, empathy, communication, trust, collaboration, conflict management and others. Approximately 600 people have completed the training to date.
    • Store Supervisor Development Program: designed to develop supervisors to become store managers. During the 1-year programme, participants are exposed to online initiatives such as Store Management, Planning, Results Governance, People Management, and a final project focused on process improvement. In the most recent group, 39 people participated.

Other initiatives:

  • Europe provided training for ‘we take it back’, reaching all employees in the 460 stores running the programme as well as logistics staff and many other functions. Additional training for all C&A Germany employees introduced them to the online take-back programme.
  • Training for ‘we take it back’: In 2018, when C&A Brazil expanded the programme to 80 stores, all participating stores were invited to participate and reminded of the procedures involved.
  • Cradle to Cradle training: In 2018, with the release of our gold level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirts and jeans C&A Brazil held a training webinar for store employees from participating stores to explain the initiative and encourage them to promote these products.
  • C&A China used WeChat, a popular instant messaging app, to raise awareness and understanding of organic cotton and C&A China’s Sustainability Commitment among its employees.
  • C&A Mexico delivered training to all commercial department employees on Better Cotton and the role of employees in increasing its adoption. Future training will focus on different aspects of sustainable materials.
  • At the launch of #WearTheChange in Brazil, employees were given T-shirts that helped them to understand the programme’s key messages and attended a Webex training to learn more about it.
  • During the launch of #WearTheChange in Mexico, all employees were given organic cotton T-shirts made to foster additional pride #WearTheChange. Sustainability was also a main topic during the end-of-year employee meeting.

Where next?

Aligning sustainability with learning and performance management

For sustainability to truly become something we do every day, it needs to be embedded within training and objectives for those employees we trust with the delivery of our goals, such as our Sustainable Supply Chain (SSC) team and the Fabric team that works with organic and Better Cotton. In Brazil, for instance, we provide annual training to the SSC team on audit protocol, document review, and checklist use.


Delivering on employee engagement plans

In 2018, we continued developing a global employee engagement approach for sustainability in alignment with the regions’ sustainability engagement plans. These plans leverage our Inspiring World initiative to:

  • Increase employee engagement in sustainability and pride in C&A for our actions in this area.
  • Develop employees as sustainability ambassadors who can drive further engagement and momentum among colleagues.
  • Foster a culture in which everyone contributes to our sustainability goals.
  • In the longer term, allow every employee to develop his/her own sustainability plan in order to contribute actively to our vision.

Execution of these plans began with the launch of our global #WearTheChange platform in early 2018, and continued throughout the year to include our evolution from Inspiring Women to the new, multifaceted Inspiring World campaign.