Supermarket chain Asda has announced a shake-up of its HR department, promoting five female staff to more senior positions, including two who have just returned from maternity leave.
The move, announced last week, is the latest in a series of progressive HR policies adopted by the UK’s second largest supermarket, which employs 130,000 staff.
Its people director, David Smith, rose to third place in Personnel Today’s Top 40 Power Players list in 2004, after overseeing a number of new initiatives, including IVF Leave’and the company’s Adult Learning Initiative.
The revamp of the HR department will see the creation of five new positions: a people director for policy and development; a retail people director; a head of reward and benefits; a head of people for logistics; and a head of colleague relations.
The HR team is made up of 70 women and 15 men. The number of women now in senior HR roles reflects a wider trend across Asda, with women making up 45.2% of head office management roles, 40.7% of in-store managers and 25.2% of depot managers.
Dianah Worman, diversity adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the promotion of women to senior positions was a positive move, but warned that it was not enough in itself.
“When taking these actions organisations must make sure they are not put on the back foot immediately,” she said.
“You have to be alert to the fact there may be different challenges around. When women move into these positions, you must give them additional support so they can perform in the best possible way.”
Smith told Personnel Today: “I’m delighted to see so many women – many of them new mothers – with whom I’ve worked so long, taking up leadership roles. Colleagues can rest assured that the future people policies of the business are in safe and experienced hands.”