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March is all about the Remarkable Women that make up the M&S family. Around 70% of our customers and 75% of our colleagues are women, and over the coming month, we will be championing the Incredible women who design, make, sell, and buy our products as we mark three important events; Mother’s Day, Women’s History Month, and International Women’s Day – which focusses this year on how together we can #breakthebias

We’ll be hosting a series of events and sharing content which look at how we can smash stereotypes and celebrate difference – including our first LinkedIn Live panel on Wednesday 9th March, featuring leading female tech entrepreneurs that work with M&S. 

But to kick start our month of remarkable women – we’ve asked a few of them to share the story of their career journey and the bias they’ve had to break along the way.

Anna Cairns, Team Manager, M&S Worthing  - “When I became a mother, my professional landscape changed, I deprived myself of opportunities to progress because of juggling work and family life, believing it was impossible to do both. I have two beautiful boys aged six and eight and I don’t want them to think that any woman has to forfeit her ambition because she chooses to have a family. Now I am excited to be part of the store manager programme and am keen to see what we can do more of as a business to support women. Breaking the bias for me starts at home and from within. I am a mother, sister, wife, daughter, and an Indian immigrant, most importantly I am enough.”

Michele Scott-Lynch, Founder and CEO of Bouclème (a haircare range sold on M& especially designed for curly or wavy hair) - “I truly believe that an environment where both women and men mutually respect each other, allows both the people and the business they work in, to thrive. I grew up in an all-female environment, I’ve always had a strong sense of female power. However, throughout my career, there have been times when I have felt like I was not taken seriously, from small comments, to being overlooked for promotions. I now have my own business and recognise times are changing but that isn’t to say that historically, the roles women hold in society have often been overlooked. As a wife and mother, I've taught my daughters to be confident and speak out about discrimination of any sort. My husband and I want them to feel that there is nothing they can’t do if they put their minds to it. Every individual, regardless of gender, deserves to feel valued and appreciated so it's important that women are removed from the shadows and celebrated.”

Kerry Northfold, our Head of Property (who oversees M&S’s entire property portfolio) - "Property was a male dominated occupation and when I started life as a graduate surveyor in a very traditional company, female role models were limited. 20 years later I’ve smashed that stereotype with a property leadership role at one of Britain’s most iconic retailers. It’s great to see the barriers being broken down and a greater depth not only in backgrounds of individuals entering the profession, but also taking senior roles. By talking and keeping gender diversity a topic of conversation, we can ensure collectively as individuals and teams, that we are aware of our actions and responsibilities. But most importantly, we can support each other."

Karen McCabe, our Head of People for Stores and Central Operations - As a mum, I wanted to have a balance between continuing to progress my career and spending time with my family. I now work part time in a job share with Vicky and I’ve never looked back! Not only do I have someone who I can bounce ideas off, share the workload and progress my career with, but most importantly, I have a work partner who holds the same values as me and we make a great team. If there is one thing I have learnt – working flexibly can definitely enable a progressive career and no one should feel that their career will stall for wanting to get the balance right”

Thank you to Anna, Michele, Karen, and Kerry for sharing their stories. Follow us on social media to hear more stories throughout March on the remarkable women who make up the M&S family: