Our associates are at the heart of everything we do. By living our values through the work they perform and the customer service they provide, they are the key to our success. They strengthen our culture by forming and maintaining relationships that build on loyalty and trust while delivering excellence in all areas.
The growth of our business relies on success of our leaders and how they motivate and inspire our associates every day. As with prior years, we continue to see a blend of external hires and internal succession appointments within the USA, Canada and the UK to leadership positions, enabling us to broaden the experience, knowledge and diversity of our leaders. How we develop all our associates, including our leaders, is discussed in the “Talent management and development” section below.
Talent management and development
Last year, we updated and launched the Group’s Mission, Vision, and Values. These reinforce our commitment to our customers and associates; they guide what we stand for and how we act. Our values encourage the right behaviors for all associates to provide the best customer service, work with the utmost integrity and look for new, innovative approaches to lead both our customers and our business into the future.
In the USA, we continued to invest in our talent management model, developing our leaders through the completion of specific development activities including participating in Strategic Project Teams on business development opportunities.
This was to enhance their knowledge and broaden their leadership experience. Additional focus allowed us to execute on succession planning and role movement across the leadership ranks to produce well rounded and seasoned leadership talent.
Having set out our inclusion and diversity (I&D) framework last year we are now delivering our key actions. We have commenced training and learning activities for all people managers and are rolling out our all associate program. We have launched our first Business Resource Groups for Women and African American associates; our third Group for LGBTQ will be set up before the end of calendar year 2020. The I&D Council was created with a diverse group of leaders from across the organization, the team has been engaged with driving I&D initiatives and is providing great insights to the work we have underway.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic we quickly adjusted all our training offerings and programs to virtual, including facilitation where required. As a result, over 700 members of our salesforce strengthened their virtual selling skills. We continue to evaluate and evolve our curriculum and strategically align our offerings to the skills our associates need to grow, develop and drive best-in-class business results.
In Canada, we have continued to drive the talent strategy and enhance our capabilities while improving the HR infrastructure to gain efficiencies. Building upon the principles of employee self-service and maintaining a single system-of-record, we launched five technology-enabled capabilities: performance management, compensation planning, talent development, employee recognition, and a new intranet. We refined our organization structure across all levels, and implemented new function-specific operating models, both to ensure more efficient delivery of products and services to our customers and further align to the Ferguson US model.
This was enhanced by the launch of a multiyear Leadership Development Program for 300+ leaders, spanning all functional areas of the business.
In the UK, we have focused on development plans that align to customer groups, satisfying specific customer needs and increasing colleague engagement. Customer service training was completed by all branch colleagues ensuring a consistent approach to serving our customers across the estate. Talent management processes are established, and several high potential associates have been promoted.
Inclusion and diversity
We want to attract and retain the best talent irrespective of race, color, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, or any other characteristic that make people unique. Females represent 44 per cent of the Board, while our percentage of women in senior management positions across the Group was 20 per cent.
Last year, we launched our Group Inclusion and Diversity framework which reinforces our commitment to identify and remove any potential for unconscious bias in our employment, promotion and succession practices.
Ferguson is committed to developing a diverse workforce and an inclusive working environment in the communities where we operate. By recognizing and celebrating our differences, we are learning so much more from each other and we remain committed to listening and learning and doing more to advocate for inclusion, diversity, equality and acceptance at Ferguson and in our communities. We continue to review our progress as we make strides in delivering improvements in workforce diversity.
To achieve our objectives, all people decisions at Ferguson are based on merit, where the best candidates are hired and promoted within the organization and associates are encouraged, supported and developed to reach their full potential. To ensure success and to continue to support an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment, where all associates are treated with dignity, fairness and respect, we have launched I&D Diversity Councils in the US and UK.
We rolled out training to our leadership teams to recognize unconscious and unintentional bias that we each carry. In June, the Executive Committee participated in a highly interactive inclusion and diversity experience. In the US, unconscious bias training was conducted with senior and mid-level managers during July and August. We will complete this training with all our associates over the next year.
We also provided unconscious bias training for leaders in Canada and the UK. Additionally, we established an African American and a Women’s Business Resource Group (BRG) to provide support, connection and affiliation across all regions. Our recruitment practices factor in underrepresented groups and we insist on diverse candidate slates when using executive search firms.
All material issues relating to our people directly affect our strategy. The effectiveness and level of engagement of our people is critical in delivering on our strategy and maintaining the success of the business.