Is John Lewis ethical?
Our research highlights several ethical issues with John Lewis and we have awarded them negative marks in a number of categories on our scoring system, including for animal rights, animal testing, climate change, habitats & resources, pollutions and toxics, human rights, workers' rights, irresponsible marketing, anti-social finance, controversial technologies and factory farming.
Below we outline of some of these issues. John Lewis does have a positive company ethos however so we also explore how the company scores a best rating for its supply chain management and timber sourcing policies.
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All 83,000 staff are partners of John Lewis, meaning that each employee is a co-owner, having a democratic voice and a financial stake in the success of the business.
John Lewis received our best rating for Supply Chain Management. For example, the company works with a number of organisations that help to improve workers’ rights and lessen environmental impacts within supply chains such as the Ethical Trading Initiative.
However, when it comes to its garment workers, the story is quite different. John Lewis has no supplier list detailing where it sources its clothing from. This lack of transparency is worrying, particularly when workers rights’ abuses are rife in clothing production.
John Lewis has committed to some positive environmental targets in its Corporate Responsibility Report. For example, it states that by 2021 it will reduce its carbon intensity by 65% compared to its 2010 baseline. We gave it a middle rating for its environmental reporting, because, while it acknowledged the environmental impact of some of its operations, it failed to address key areas such as the use of chemicals in its supply chain.
John Lewis had no policy addressing animal testing. It was also revealed in 2018 that it owned Leckford Estate, which supplied Waitrose stores with milk, poultry and beef.
In 2018, John Lewis received our worst rating for tax avoidance. Two of the company's subsidiaries were listed in Guernsey and considered high risk for tax avoidance.