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Better lives

Better neighbourhoods

We want to create a positive impact for everyone across our value chain and beyond, and that means supporting the neighbourhoods in which we operate and where our co-workers and customers live. Everyone deserves a better home, a better life and a better planet

Our approach

We’ve worked in partnerships with community organisations for many years to find solutions to local social and environmental challenges and to have a lasting positive impact on our communities.  

We’re always looking to improve our approach, bringing together our co-workers and communities and sharing what we learn to keep getting better. Our focus areas in FY21, were: 

  • Emergency Community Support – being there to help when emergencies or crises have an impact on the lives of our neighbours 
  • A Place Called Home – co-creating new partnerships to help people who don’t have a safe and secure place to call home 
  • Skills for Employment – providing opportunities for skills development and work experience for refugees, migrants, people with disabilities, young people and women outside the labour market to help them make the move to independence 
  • Working with social businesses – integrating social enterprises into our Ingka Group supply chain, to give people access to income opportunities and provide last mile services to our customers. 
Drawing of an IKEA store

Progress and challenges in FY21

Key achievements in FY21 include: 

  • reaching more than 1 million people through our social impact programmes 
  • implementing our A Place Called Home initiative in 30 countries 
  • reaching 802 refugees and asylum seekers through skills for development programmes in 22 countries in FY21 
  • partnerships with 39 social entrepreneurs in 15 countries. 

We faced challenges in expanding some of our programmes due to the pandemic and lockdowns in some of our markets.   

Over the years, we’ve been able to support millions of people through our community and emergency programmes, including Place Called Home. We aim to further increase that impact. During FY21, we developed a new, over-arching approach to creating long-lasting social impact in our neighbourhoods, with input from more than 200 stakeholders including co-workers, leaders, community experts and existing partners.

Human sew fabrics

The Ingka Group Neighbourhoods framework will help us secure the right projects and partnerships to deliver social impact through our business, and will focus on three main elements: 

  • How we co-create social impact through the business 
  • How we measure our business’s social impact 
  • How we organise ourselves at Ingka to deliver social impact through the business. 

We will further develop this framework during FY22 through pilot projects and will be developing indicators to better measure the social impact of our programmes and track the number of people we have supported. We’ll also be looking to strengthen our governance and management processes and build capacity and competence in our teams to ensure we deliver the most impactful programmes. We aim to roll out the new approach in all markets from FY23. 

Responding to emergencies

When an emergency or crisis hits the neighbourhoods where we operate, we aim to give people and communities fast, responsible support. This year, we helped communities dealing with climate-related emergencies, as well as the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

For example, IKEA co-workers in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and China came together to deal with the devastation caused by widespread storms and flooding during the summer of 2021. A unified IKEA response coordinated donations of food, products, space, knowledge, logistic capacity, and services, and co-workers in each territory were supported to ensure they were safe. Taskforces in each area worked to support their neighbourhoods​, in collaboration with local government and NGOs.  

 In Germany, where flooding caused catastrophic damage to homes and infrastructure, ten IKEA stores partnered with the authorities and charities to identify needs and offer support, including providing meals for helpers.  

IKEA Netherlands provided food for volunteers and schools around the Zuid-Limburg area after floods affected around 700 homes. In Belgium, where thousands of homes were destroyed and 41 people lost their lives, IKEA Belgium created an emergency fund to support co-workers and local governments.   

In China, this year’s typhoon season caused significant devastation. IKEA China worked with the China Women’s Development Foundation as part of the emergency response, donating 1,400 sets of quilts, pillows and towels to women and children affected by the floods.  

A Place Called Home

Better homes create better lives – but there are many people in our communities who don’t have a safe and secure place to call home. For many people, the pandemic has exacerbated existing problems – and we want to help them.  

Through our initiative, A Place Called Home, we are working with charities, civil society and government organisations in all countries where we operate. Our projects are supporting thousands of children, young people and families experiencing social exclusion and poverty. We’re also working with victims of domestic violence, people experiencing homelessness, refugees and asylum seekers, among others.  

We provide product and financial donations and other support to build capacity and find new solutions to help those living without a place they can call home. More than 1 million people benefited from our support during FY21.  

Our Place Called Home initiative builds on our work to help people affected by disasters and emergencies, aiming to create transformative, longer-term solutions to the challenges communities face.  

We invested EUR 24.5 million in FY20 to support Covid relief efforts. Each country had a share of the fund to work with and this money continued to have an impact in FY21 through Place Called Home.  

Developing skills for employment

Everyone has talent and potential – but too many people struggle to get into the labour market. We support people who lack skills or experience, or face other barriers, to find work – including within our business, where co-workers from diverse backgrounds can give us new ways to support our customers’ needs and help us tap into new markets.  

One of the ways we do this is by integrating refugees into our workplaces – because we know how much value refugees can bring to businesses and communities.  

How did we do in FY21?

Our goal is to support 2,500 refugees through job training and language skills initiatives in 30 countries by the end of 2022. We’ve developed three-year integration action plans with local partners and government organisations, providing work experience, training and language skills. The refugee trainees are invited to apply for a job with us at the end of the course.  

The pandemic closures disrupted some in-store elements in FY21, but the growth in e-commerce created opportunities in logistics, so we adapted some of our initiatives. By the end of the year we’d reached 802 refugees and asylum seekers in 22 countries, bringing the total number reached since FY20 to 847. On average, 60% of trainees found jobs.  

What have we learnt so far? 

As we implement the programme, we’re learning all the time. In FY21 we took some time to reflect on what we’ve learnt to date to help us continue to strengthen our programme across our markets. We found that:  

  • Many co-workers are involved in making this initiative a success. Having one shared social impact goal helps bring teams together across functions and countries.   
Image of a woman
  • Setting up a ‘buddy’ system in which nominated co-workers support trainees is a key factor in the success of the programme. It also enables the buddies to gain new experiences, skills and competencies which contributes to their development and helps to embed positive attitudes to diversity and inclusion.  
  • It can be more difficult for women to take up trainee opportunities due to cultural barriers and family responsibilities. We are exploring different ways to overcome this challenge, with some countries proactively raising awareness about the opportunities for women through the refugee community and local partners. They have also adjusted the programme to enable wider access, for example, by offering part-time participation. IKEA Switzerland has nearly doubled female representation from 17% to 30% during FY21. 
  • We need to actively address potential barriers to trainees applying for a permanent role. This includes making sure that our recruiters and hiring managers have the right knowledge, competence and awareness in relation to refugee candidates and ensuring that our digital application tool is not a barrier for people in underrepresented communities.  

Changing the narrative on refugees 

Refugees’ contributions to society and businesses can be significant. They help strengthen the economy, fulfill labour needs, and counter ageing demographic trends. When refugees have access to their rights, they are better able to integrate and contribute to the economy, paying taxes and buying local products and services as consumers. This can improve social cohesion in the host communities. This year, on World Refugee Day we launched our “changing the narrative” commitment to challenge perceptions about refugees and engage people both inside and outside the company.  To create a visible shift in attitudes, we are focused on three main actions: 

  • Improve awareness and perception of refugees among our co-workers, customers and neighbourhoods  
  • Inspire the private sector to engage in refugee employment and advocacy 
  • Advocate for governments to live up to their promises in The 1951 Refugee Convention 

As a first step, we teamed up with GapMinder and UNHCR on a quizthat aims to challenge misconceptions around refugees for co-workers and customers. Find out more about our work with refugees here. 

Making room for a better world 

At our Aleja Bielany meeting place in Wroclaw, visitors can find FOROOM, an intercultural community point both for immigrants and the local people of Wroclaw created to inspire inclusion for all visitors of the meeting place. It’s a space for exchanging ideas, sharing experiences and life stories – all of this, always in an international environment.

Two kids write on a paper

Partnering with social entrepreneurs

Helping vulnerable people find income opportunities by integrating social entrepreneurs and social businesses into our retail value chain is an important way to tackle societal challenges while meeting the needs of our business and customers.  

Our goal is to develop products or services with social businesses in every Ingka Group market by 2025. We worked with 39 organisations in FY21 in 15 countries. This includes textile collections, sewing services, and last-mile services. The number of countries actively partnering with social businesses has decreased compared to FY20 (18 countries) and the number of partnerships has remained flat as we review our overall ways of working with social entrepreneurs. During FY21, we also developed our standard operating procedure for working with social enterprises and a set of KPIs to make it easier for our markets to develop these important partnerships and monitor their impact.  

Read more about our movements here