To realise the potential of our people

We are committed to creating a modern, inclusive, and diverse culture that focuses on the health, safety, and wellbeing of its employees. We have implemented several initiatives to improve employee engagement and development, including conducting surveys, offering training programs, and promoting leadership and talent development.


Health and safety culture 

Last year, we worked hard to make our workplace safer by empowering our employees to identify and eliminate risks. We're happy to say that our efforts paid off, with a 6% reduction in employee accidents and a record low accident frequency rate. Our leaders also played a key role in promoting health and safety, by leading over 80 workshops and engaging in safety programmes. We saw great results, with a 65% increase in our employee engagement index this year. Moving forward, we'll continue to focus on creating a strong safety culture by encouraging leadership safety programmes and spreading awareness across our site network. 

Wellbeing of our people

We launched a global wellbeing survey this year to understand local initiatives and activities against our wellbeing framework. The survey confirmed every site has an active programme with examples such as physical and mental health support, phased retirement programmes, site risk assessments for employees with a disability and workplace assessments. In 2023/24 we will launch a wellbeing week to promote activities that will help every employee with their wellbeing.  

Health, Safety & Wellbeing Week 2023
Health, Safety & Wellbeing Week 2023

Engaging our employees

Understanding how employees feel about working for DS Smith is an important part of our people agenda. In 2022/23, over 350 listening sessions were held to explore the results of the October 2021 employee survey, resulting in over 700 actions to address feedback on communication, safety, customer focus, work organization, and inclusion. Targeted pulse surveys were conducted between January and March 2023, resulting in an average increase in engagement by 5% and enablement by 3%. The Smithies recognition program celebrates employees' achievements, with monthly local awards and an annual online global awards ceremony. Our European Works Council meets twice a year with management to provide feedback, and we plan to continue engaging our people by conducting more frequent pulse surveys in 2023/24. 

Developing our employees 

Our business is committed to sustainability and aims to be a leader in circularity. We invest in our people's development and offer 7,000 courses in multiple languages through our e-learning platform, DS Smith Learning Percipio. In the last two years, we have created Learning Academies to develop critical skills in various areas, with over 1,000 colleagues receiving learning through our SMI Academy in 2022/23. 

Leadership and talent development 

We partner with Saïd Business School for leadership development and have seen over 40% of participants promoted with higher retention rates. We also support first line managers and offer developmental opportunities for early career individuals through our graduate schemes. In FY23/24, we will continue to focus on developing our people through early career and leadership programmes. 

Creating a modern, inclusive and diverse culture 

We are dedicated to promoting diversity in our workforce, building an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.  

We work with employee resource groups to raise awareness and commitment to our DE&I agenda. We have developed three new ERGs, including LGBTQ+ and allies, culture and ethnic diversity, gender diversity, and disability and allies. Our Equal Opportunities & Anti-Discrimination policy is being embedded through training and awareness campaigns. We have achieved gender parity in our graduate intake for the third year in a row. 

DS Smith at London Pride 2023
DS Smith at London Pride 2023

Diversity of our team 

DS Smith's female representation increased to 22.9% in the financial year 2022/23. Women in senior leadership increased to 34.5% in the 12 months to 31 October 2022. DS Smith is committed to improving diversity across all protected characteristics and aims to have 40% women in senior leadership by 2030. The company achieved gender pay parity this year and will review demographic data to establish a baseline for wider DE&I ambition in 2023/24.