Investing in People
Our Employees and Makers
We are committed to nurturing a fulfilled, diverse workforce who love what they do. Our Work from Home policy offers flexibility and encourages a good work/life balance. Alongside regular product or skills-based training, we offer staff benefits designed to keep our people engaged and motivated.
We continue to increase diversity within our workforce, and our sustainability taskforce has been exploring ways to widen the pool of talent for new hires.
Every single one of our makers is based in the UK. We are committed to protecting their health and safety, and to paying fair wages as an accredited Living Wage Employer. This includes trainee apprentices from the moment they start to ensure we secure the future of craft in Britain. Preserving and promoting craft skills is at the heart of our mission. For example, our Leicester workshop started with two employees when we bought the rattan weaving business in 2011. There are now 28 craftspeople employed in Soane’s workshops, and we plan to add nine more jobs by the end of 2024.
Four craftspeople have completed our rattan apprenticeship programme to date, unique in the UK because there is no recognised training in this skill in Britain. In addition, another 9 apprentices are currently in training. We established the apprenticeship to ensure future generations could learn the techniques and to secure the future of the craft in Britain.
We have expanded our premises to accommodate new trainees and have space for over 50 craftspeople.
Our Independent Makers
In addition to our own in-house makers we collaborate with a further 39 independent craft workshops in the UK, choosing those who share our commitment to sustainability. We require high standards from our contracted workshops, including full compliance with the law and assurances that their makers are paid a fair living wage.
We work closely with some of the best upholsterers in the country and support these skills by sponsoring new apprentices to encourage and train a new generation of makers.
Raw Material Suppliers
Because we source most of our raw materials from third parties, our ability to map and influence suppliers is limited, especially further down the supply chain outside Britain. That’s why it’s vital we work with peers and other partners to make progress in understanding the sources of our raw materials.
We are mapping our supply chain to understand more fully where our raw materials come from and how workers are treated. Our aim is to work towards full traceability of the materials we use, so that we know exactly where they come from and can ensure the people working in our supply chain are treated well and paid fairly.
We are keen to play an active role in our local communities in London, Leicester and North America, as well as in the wider design community; this includes apprenticeships in our own and third party UK workshops. We have partnered with the V&A Museum to establish and fund scholarships and grants to students, early career researchers and emerging practitioners working anywhere in the world on any aspect of Asian or African textiles and dress. We also donate leftover fabric and leather to local colleges and universities to be used in classes for educational purposes.
Read more about our work with local and international charities.