Reporting directly to our CEO, the Director of Sustainable Business oversees and coordinates the implementation, measurement and reporting of Plan A - with support from a small team of social, environmental and ethical specialists.
The Plan A team provides support and advice on change management, community and partnership programmes, as well as specialist topics that cut across our business.
Every area of our business is responsible for ensuring that appropriate processes and controls are in place to deliver, monitor and report against relevant Plan A commitments
A small number of Plan A managers and specialists work on key issues (including health and safety and supply chain compliance) in our Food, General Merchandise, Retail, Finance, Property, Logistics, International and HR functions.
All our stores and offices have volunteer Plan A champions who take on extra responsibility for involving co-workers in implementation of Plan A.
Many of our employees, including Executive Directors and Management Committee members, have Plan A performance targets as part of their personal objectives.
To deliver Plan A we need the right resources and a range of knowledge and expertise. We build this capacity and capability through a number of initiatives:
We've captured what we've learnt about the business case for sustainability during the first five-years of Plan A which is available to download below.
We care about our role in society and our success depends on the support of stakeholders in our local communities.
We believe that trust is established and maintained by doing business in the right way. We also want to be recognised as a leader on transparency in the retail sector.
Our approach to sustainability is largely guided by our stakeholders. We’ve defined effective way to listen to their views and respond.
As a retailer our biggest impacts on the environment and society come from the food and general merchandise products we sell, and the ways customers use and dispose of them.
We’re heavily dependent on our supply chain to deliver our Plan A commitments. We’re committed to working in partnership with responsible suppliers who can help us deliver Plan A.
We are predominantly an own-brand retailer, branded goods are a very small proportion of what we sell – around one per cent of total lines across the store. Plan A applies to our own products, operations, customers, employees and our supply base, however it does not apply to the supply chains of branded goods. A number of these suppliers do have their own, well respected sustainability programmes, for example Unilever. We work closely with some of these companies, sharing best practice and advice, however ultimately they are responsible for the standards applied to their branded products.
We are also engaging our customers to make Plan A happen by:
We know we can’t deliver Plan A alone. That’s why partnership is at its heart. We’re leading with others (like-minded business partners, charities, NGOs, academic bodies, governments and local community groups) to accelerate systemic change through external advocacy, thought leadership and practical collaboration.
We’re focused on six areas that we believe are most crucial to delivering our ambitions:
We prepare internal dashboard reports on a bi-monthly basis for senior managers, to highlight key areas of progress and issues that need to be resolved.
We track overall progress against our commitments at least twice a year. Each business area is required to confirm that any data submitted to the Plan A central team is materially accurate and has been adequately reviewed.
Progress on all commitments is assured in our annual Plan A Report. Those rated as being of ‘high importance to stakeholders’ and either ‘high or medium importance to M&S’ are independently assured, others are reviewed by our Internal Audit team.
We report on our progress against our Plan A commitments every year, in our Plan A Report. This provides data on each commitment, and a rating of Achieved, Achieved-late, Previously achieved, On plan, Behind plan, Not achieved, or Ongoing.
An increasing number of ratings, rankings, indices and awards now measure, compare or reward corporate sustainability performance
We prioritise those that are most relevant for our business and our stakeholders, for example FTSE4Good and CDP.
Like most major retailers, we use internally developed systems to keep pace in a fast-moving industry. These systems cover training, health and safety, environmental performance and quality.
We’re certified to ISO 50001:2011, the international Energy Management Systems standard for our stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
We were the first retailer to be certified to all three Carbon Trust Standards, which cover Carbon, Water, and Waste Management. This reflects our achievements in reducing carbon emissions and water usage as well as sending no waste to landfill in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
In 2015, we renewed and retained our CommunityMark status for a further 3 years. The CommunityMark was developed by Business in the Community. It’s the only UK national standard to publicly recognise excellence in community investment.
Around the world, stores, offices, warehouses and delivery fleets operated by Marks & Spencer, or in joint-ventures, have also been self certified as carbon neutral in accordance with the PAS 2060:2014 ‘Specification for the demonstration of carbon neutrality’.
We have a robust governance framework in place for Plan A. This ensures effective oversight and decision-making about strategy, performance, responsibility and accountability.
Our Plan A governance structure
|M&S plc Board and Operating Committee|
Our CEO oversees our work on sustainability. He is supported by the M&S plc Board and Operating Committee who are responsible for ensuring that every part of our business is clear about its Plan A obligations. The main Board is updated on Plan A at least once a year.
The Board completes a Group Risk Profile every six months. Key social and environmental risks such as climate change are assessed separately, but are generally considered as contributory factors to wider business risks related to the M&S brand and the continuity of our operations and supply chain.
|Plan A Committee|
Our Plan A Committee meets quarterly to ensure that sustainability is integrated into the day-to-day management and operations of the business. It reviews our progress against Plan A commitments, and the way in which we manage risks.
Our Director of Sustainable Business, who reports directly to the CEO, chairs the committee, which includes senior management representatives from key parts of our business plus our Head of Sustainable Business and our Corporate Head of Human Rights.
The Chair formally updates the CEO and full Board at least once per year.
|Sustainable Retail Advisory Board|
Our Sustainable Retail Advisory Board meets every 6 months to provide guidance and insights. The Board also challenges us to do even better on our journey to become a more sustainable business.
The Advisory Board includes renowned and respected external sustainability experts. It’s jointly chaired by our CEO and the founding director of Forum for the Future, Jonathon Porritt.