Diversity & Inclusion

Hotel Chocolat prides itself on being an inclusive business that creates a culture where everyone can succeed, develop their career and have the opportunity to grow. We are constantly striving to provide a working environment where every member of our Group is actively supported to reach their potential.


The Board are committed to ensuring that all employees can have a voice in the boardroom. Our people are a regular topic on the Board agenda and Sophie Tomkins, non-executive director has been given a special remit to ensure that employee views and concerns are fully represented.


Industry-leading employee engagement, resulting in a highly motivated team that delivers great customer experience and drives continuous innovation.


Two-way open, honest, ongoing dialogue.


Key achievements this year


We launched The Pod, an internal app to share company news, celebrate successes and act as a portal to access training materials and personal development tools.


We increased our business communication with a weekly and monthly calendar of all-employee briefings.


Regular ‘listening sessions’ are held with small groups across the business to discuss topics important to their teams.


The Group also operates an all employee share-save scheme, which launched in August 2016, with the first vesting taking place in FY20, and in which over 200 colleagues successfully participated.


Gender Equality Update


Hotel Chocolat has long been committed to gender equality. In the past year we have furthered this with the launch of a number of new programmes and tools to improve our two-way communication and engagement. Among those, we formed a new colleague-led working group to support our work against racism and discrimination in all forms, including on the basis of gender.


The Group and the Board are committed to equality. We continually strive to create a working environment in which all individuals are able to make the best use of their skills and talents, free from discrimination or harassment, and in which all decisions are based on merit. We are confident that all of our employees are paid fairly and consistently for the same roles.


As with all businesses, we published our latest gender pay report in March 2019]. We added 96 additional employees in the reporting period and 75% of the new roles were filled by women. Our mean gender pay gap reduced by 3%. Of those people in management positions with accountability for making recruitment decisions, 65% are female. Within the highest paid quartile of employees, the majority (59%) are female.


We celebrated International Women’s Day 2020 in a number of ways, including a talk by Lysa Hardy, CMO sharing her career experience as a working parent and offering support and advice on work-life balance. As a company, this is important to us: we offer several flexible working options, with 63% of our female staff and 30% of male staff working part-time. Not only does this suit the differing circumstances of our employees, it also allows us to attract individuals from a diverse talent pool.


The Anti-Racism Group


In 2020, Hotel Chocolat formed the Anti-Racism Group (ARG), a new colleague-led working group to support our work against racism and discrimination in all forms. We commit to action in order to maintain a working environment where racism and discrimination of any kind are not tolerated.


Our vision:

  • Increased diversity in the workplace.
  • To foster an active discussion across the whole Group that promotes shared understanding, to highlight, challenge and oppose discrimination and ensure equality of opportunity.


Key achievements:

  • We have created a rolling calendar of business events to recognise and celebrate all forms of diversity.
  • We are updating all of our team demographic records to ensure a robust baseline for tracking the results of our programmes, including the rollout of diversity and inclusion training to every employee by the end of 2020.


The ARG is made up of 23 individuals from across the global Hotel Chocolat family, who meet regularly to share their experiences, influence and create change. The ARG purpose is ‘To actively build an anti-racist culture and environment that highlights, challenges, and opposes discrimination and racism that employees face, and to drive sustainable change that progresses equality for all.’


This group comprises passionate volunteers with the shared objective of openly discussing and promoting diversity and equality both inside and outside Hotel Chocolat, whether by developing new ideas or by ensuring great communication of existing activity. Angus Thirlwell, CEO, and Jo Brett, CEO Saint Lucia, are members, along with volunteers from across the Group.


One of our Retail Managers, Shamila Nazli, was an early volunteer to join the Group. She wanted to share her experience celebrating Eid in her local community. The discussions at the working group led to improved business-wide communications explaining the importance of Eid for the Muslim community, which in turn led to a wider distribution of Eid gifts across the business and an increased focus on other religious celebrations, including Hanukkah.


This is just one of the ways in which the ARG is already having a positive impact. We look forward to more as our calendar of events and training is rolled out.


Here’s the full video on our ARG


Mental Health Awareness


2020 has highlighted more than ever the need for continued support around mental health. After putting it to an employee vote, our Charity of the Year is Mind. In March, just before lockdown, we hosted a company-wide Charity Week and raised money and awareness for Mind. In total over the course of the year we’ve raised £30,000 for the charity.


We had already invested in training 30 Mental Health First Aiders across the business and given them the skills to help any employees who are suffering with their mental health to access the right support. More recently, we’ve partnered with the Camden and Islington NHS Trust to develop these Mental Health First Aiders further, ensuring they feel totally supported in their role by running regular sessions where they can share experiences in a safe space and learn from each other and the experts.


The Mental Health First Aider programme bolsters the service already provided by our Employee Assistance Programme, Health Assured, who are available 24/7 to talk to on a variety of different topics, including mental health. We continue to signpost this service to our employees to ensure they are aware of this helpline which is completely confidential.


Finally, we celebrated Mental Health Awareness Week in May by sharing lots of information with our employees, on how they could look to improve their mental health. This included live yoga sessions that all employees could attend online and encouraging employees to show gratitude towards each other on what we dubbed Thankful Thursday.