#10,000BlackInterns: Transforming the horizons for young Black people
One of the things that’s kept me at M&S for over 19 years is the genuine passion I see across the business to listen, learn and do things differently. That’s what motivated me to join the newly created Inclusion and Diversity team, so I can help to drive change for our colleagues, the hundreds of communities we serve and the 31 million customers shopping in our stores.
We want inclusivity to be embedded into our business – from the ranges we offer and the way we market them, to supporting organisations that address inclusion issues, to making sure we attract, support and develop diverse talent so we create an inclusive culture where everyone feels they belong and are respected.
Our responsibility as the Inclusion and Diversity team is to put our intentions into action and we want to develop a plan to help us move forward. As we start 2021, we’ve been working on a number of projects to help support our goals – and I’ve had the opportunity to get stuck into some of them, just a few weeks into my new role.
One of the first programmes I’ve been helping to deliver for 2021 is our support for 10,000 Black Interns – a new initiative that’s seeking to address the massive under-representation of Black talent found in every sector across the UK. By offering internships across a wide range of industries, 10,000 Black Interns enables Black students, whether at university or higher education colleges, to get a foot in the door across a breadth of sectors – from accountancy, to construction, to marketing. We’re the first major retailer that’s committed to offering placements for at least five Black students across our Food and Clothing & Home businesses when the programme officially launches in late 2021.
Nearly 500 companies have already signed up, working towards the initiative’s target of enabling 10,000 Black students to gain work experience by 2025. Together with companies across the UK, we have the opportunity to create real change by transforming the prospects of young Black people.
We know we have much more work to do to make M&S a truly inclusive and diverse place to work and shop and this is just one tiny part of our broader plans over the next year. But every step forward – however big or small – means we’re heading in the right direction. I’m proud to be part of the team that’s making positive change happen and I’m looking forward to driving forward many more inclusive initiatives throughout 2021 and beyond.