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Pride has always been an important word at M&S. Every year we celebrate our colleague’s achievements at the Pride of M&S awards, we’re proud of many things – from our heritage, to Plan A to the service we deliver for customers and this year Pride has taken on a new meaning for us, for the first time we’ve proudly taken part in Pride in London. Marching in the parade Saturday was more than just showing to our customers and colleagues that M&S is an inclusive place to work and shop, it marked the official creation of our new network – LGBT+ @M&S. M&S has always been a company that celebrates diversity and looks after its people. Flora Solomon pioneered a staff welfare department in the 1930s which became the forerunner to today’s company benefits and working policies, her revolutionary thinking ultimately influenced the creation of the welfare state. From Flora’s day right up to today we’ve had a culture where colleagues can bring themselves to work and be welcomed, respected and inspired, but across the organisation we recognise there’s always more that can be done. 

I have worked for M&S for 16 years and I have never felt as proud as I do now. From my role in the founding group I have met so many great people who have the energy and passion to do the right thing and encourage everyone to be themselves. 

The LGBT+ network has grown organically over recent months and those of us who originally championed the idea have been blown away by the support from colleagues across the UK. We’re really looking forward to growing as a network, supporting our members and having fun. It has been amazing to see what has already been achieved in such a short space of time and gives us the encouragement to build on this enthusiasm for the future. 

As well as a large amount of members our network also has the backing of senior leadership, as a business we’ve also joined OUTstanding – a network for LGBT executives. And we’ll be engaging colleagues outside of the network too, as part of our Pride celebrations Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, will be speaking at our Head Office later this month.  

Attending Pride was really important to me as it was my chance to be part of something bigger and to show everyone how proud we are to be part of M&S and the wider LGBT+ community. As you can see Saturday was a brilliant day, from marching in the parade,

PRIDE - Parade

To seeing our store windows proudly decorated with the ‘be yourself message’, 

PRIDE - store window

To bonding as a group and having fun. 

PRIDE - Group Shot

And the best thing is that it was only the beginning for the network. Our Yammer group is growing fast– a place for colleagues to raise questions, share ideas, connect with each other and work together to make sure M&S is a great place to work for everybody.