Preventing harassment in retail

Retailers Against Harassment Certification

Preventing harassment in the retail environment is becoming a touchstone people and business issue.

Our Retail and Consumer Team has joined forces with industry charity, the Retail Trust, to launch the Retailers Against Harassment Certification – an initiative to support retailers in their efforts to combat the rise in harassment in the retail workplace and foster safer working environments for their employees.


Our research in 2019 and 2021 revealed that nearly two-thirds of shopworkers have experienced offensive behaviour at work. The British Retail Consortium’s open letter to the UK Government in July 2021 called for more protection for shopworkers and featured signatures from the CEOs of multiple well-known brands.

The Retailers Against Harassment Certification combines the experience, advisory skills, and industry know-how of Foot Anstey and the Retail Trust. The complementary approach of these two leading sector organisations will  help retailers protect their employees from harassment and support them when they encounter it.

On the certification, Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said:

“Violence towards shopworkers remains a major problem facing the industry. We welcome any initiatives aimed at supporting colleagues, and helping retailers to protect their workers. Similarly we welcome new ways to evaluate the effectiveness of measures currently in place to protect colleagues.”

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How does it work

Watch the video to find out more about the certification and how it works for retailers

The Mission

The Retailers Against Harassment Certification audits a retailer’s performance against a challenging but consistent standard of approach and commitment to tackling workplace harassment – giving credit when good work is already in place and showing and supporting where improvements can be made.

The certification will help a retailer look after its people, reduce its operational risk, and be recognised as a proactive and supportive employer on the issue of harassment and safety in the workplace.

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The history

In 2019 and 2021, we conducted in-depth surveys into the issue of harassment in retail, shining a light on retail workers’ experiences of harassment in the workplace.

Our most recent study, released in September 2021, surveyed over 1,000 retail workers and uncovered reports of physical, sexual and verbal harassment. It concluded that more needed to be done to drive down unacceptable behaviour by customers and colleagues and ensure appropriate support for workers was in place when it did occur.

The Certification

A dedicated team will take you through the certification process from start to finish over a period of 10-12 weeks. Our team will be asking to see documents, materials and other evidence of your organisation’s approach across five areas of competence and commitment, including policies and procedures, the commitment from the board and senior leadership, and the training and support available for frontline employees.

The work will involve an initial scoping meeting and audit and analysis of your approach, employee interviews across different levels and locations, a facilitated workshop to provide feedback and develop ideas for delivering improvements.

The programme will culminate with a full written report and recommendations, and certification if the appropriate standard is met.

The certification will help your organisation:

  • Benefit from the input of leaders in their field on what good looks like and develop ideas that align with your organisation’s values and culture
  • Boost attraction and retention at a time when attracting and retaining good employees is challenging. People will join safe workplaces and leave those which have a poor reputation
  • Prevent issues before they occur
  • Protect your reputation. Taking steps after a scandal or a court case is too late, the reputational damage has already happened
  • Achieve a recognised certification, which can be used as powerful evidence of the commitment and approach of the organisation

Foot Anstey

Responsible retailers are already aware of the problem and are working hard to address it, and this certification is an opportunity to gauge the efficacy of their actions and show their teams that they are taking this issue seriously. The program will help retailers to build on their current approach using our insight and legal know-how, and Retail Trust’s 190 years of industry experience.

Nathan Peacey Head of Retail and Consumer

Retail Trust

More and more people are turning to the Retail Trust because of the rising levels of abuse they are receiving in stores and call centres. We applaud any retailer that starts the process to achieve the Retailers Against Harassment Certification for recognising the important role they have to play in creating safer and happier workplaces for their staff. We look forward to supporting retailers this year as we join forces with Foot Anstey to bring the industry together in tackling such a terrible issue.

Chris Brook-Carter Chief Executive Officer

Getting started

The full Retailers Against Harassment Certification process drawing on the support and industry knowledge of our legal experts and the backing of the Retail Trust, is provided at a fixed cost – no hidden extras or surprises.

To help support the invaluable work of the Retail Trust with those who you employ, ten percent of the costs will be donated to the charity.

Throughout the audit process our legal experts will be on-hand to support and advise. Please get in touch on the contact details below to kick start your Certification process.

Retail Trust Leaders’ Summit

As part of our ongoing work with the Retail Trust, we sponsored its Leaders’ Summit in early 2023. The event brought together mental health trailblazers, industry changemakers and forward-thinking retail leaders for a one-day programme of fresh, thought provoking content that challenged the typical approach to wellbeing strategy.

The event deep dived into key issues critical to the future success of retail, uncovered trends and created an open environment for discussion and idea sharing.

Ultimately inspiring people leaders to create hope, health and happiness for our retail colleagues.

Patrick Howarth, Partner at Foot Anstey, joined a host of experts on the panel ‘Solving the intolerance epidemic: the customer isn’t always right’. Click the video link to find out more about the event.

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Key contacts

Harassment in retail insights