Corporate Social Responsibility
Debenhams Sustainability Report
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Debenhams are involved in a number of Ethical Trade programmes that aim to reduce inequalities within our global supply chains, focusing on life skills that will empower women and their communities.



In 2015, Debenhams partnered with Swasti, an International Health Resource Centre based in Bangalore, India to implement our LIFE programme (Life Skills for Empowering Women), By delivering a number of training modules, the programme objective was to raise awareness and empower workers, particularly women, working in the Debenhams Indian supply chain.




The workers are trained on five key areas:

  • Health & Hygiene
  • Food & Nutrition
  • Reproductive Health
  • Financial Literacy
  • Gender Relationships

We have already seen positive results with the current Swasti Life women empowerment programme in India, impacting over 6,400 workers to date. We now plan to expand this into other sourcing countries within the supply chain where there is a high concentration of women.

Success Stories

“I have begun to look at women with respect after the program. I would look down upon women, and feel that they were not equals. The training made me realize that we are equals. I also learnt about menstruation, and realized that I need to help my mother and sister at home, especially during those days as they need to rest. I have shared learning on nutritious food with them, and they follow it now. My mother cooks a variety of vegetables at home. I discuss my finances with my mother, and I have been able to save Rs.5000 every month in the bank. My mother and aunt save in the post office every month.”
Rajashekhar, Sample, Cutting Assistant

“Workers maintain hygiene at the workplace. Men and women mingle with each other, and help each other at work. They have begun to eat nutritious food, and drink boiled water. I give boiled water to all the children in the crèche.”

“Someone I know is separated from her husband. She lives all alone, and I have been able to build her confidence to live her life. I have shared the learnings from the program, and encourage her to go ahead in life. Today, I am able to help and talk to someone because of the program. Swasti should reach more people through this training, so that they are able to lead enriching lives.”
Shanti, a caretaker in the Crèche

Some of the Impacts of the programme is shared through the below videos from our factories:

Please visit for more information.

Sudokkhu Skills Training

Sudokkho is a five-year skills training and employment programme in Bangladesh funded by UK aid through its Department for International Development (DFID) and the Swiss Agency Sudokkho’s objective is to reduce poverty through better training and job opportunities. The “Industry Based Training” (IBT) of Sudokkho works together with private sector employers to support industry to develop innovative and sustainable skills training systems that allow existing or new employees to acquire the skills that lead to employment in higher valued semi-skilled or skilled jobs.

Sudokkho trainings are customised and factories are encouraged to use their monthly labour turnover and forecasts to define their workforce planning and training requirements. The training system adopts a Competency Based Approach and focuses on three core elements, Quantity, Quality and Time (QQT).

The training statistics from December 2015 to December 2017 are:

Debenhams factories Number Trained
Women 3,161
Men 789
Total 3,950

Benefits reported by the factories

  • Availability of workers in the required operations at the required time
  • The trainees can support production while building their own skills
  • Those taught in the training centre can perform better than the helpers who were trained on-the-job
  • The supervisors are requesting more trainees
  • High supervisory satisfaction

Testimonials from factories

For further information please visit

Other existing programmes that aim to reduce inequalities include HER Finance, supporting digital banking for Bangladesh factory workers and sexual harassment training conducted by ILO Better Work in Vietnam and Cambodia.