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Written by David Barnes and James Overstall

Our goal of becoming a truly inclusive place, where everyone is free to be themselves isn't just the right thing to do, it's the only thing to do. We can only be all in this together— and all in for our customers— if we can all be our full selves at work.

We have a number of diversity and inclusion networks, reflecting our diverse colleague community, which help them to access resources, practical and emotional support. They’re also positive forums to bring about change for good in our business. All colleagues, whether they identify with a specific network or not, are welcome.

With over 900 members our LGBTQ+ network is one of our largest, and we’re proud to chair it. It's all about supporting colleagues to ‘be yourself’. By listening to and working with the network, M&S has moved up from 220 last year to 123 on Stonewall’s UK Workplace Equality Index 2020. (502 employers took part in total).

And today, we’re proud to announce that the Albert Kennedy Trust (akt) will be joining our Sparks charities.

Sparking change

akt is the national LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity, providing safe homes, support and better futures for LGBTQ+ young people. Almost one quarter of all young people facing or experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+, and 77% say rejection or abuse from their families is what has led them to being homeless.

M&S started working with akt in 2019, donating £15,000 raised through sales of our LGBT sandwich and Pride inspired t-shirts. Colleague volunteers also helped paint one of their shelters.

As one our Sparks charities, our customers can join us in supporting akt too. To find out how, click here.

This is not just any Pride… this is an M&S Pride

We spoke to our colleagues to find out what Pride means to them and how they’ll be celebrating it a bit differently this year. Here’s what they had to say:

Even though there are no parades this year, I’ve seen more LGBTQ+ communities come together over the internet than ever before. And people who were scared of meeting face to face are now getting involved. So for me, Pride 2020 is about getting the community spirit back.

Chris Johnson

M&S Clapham store

For me, Pride is one day of the year that we get to celebrate everybody not just those in the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a celebration of love and acceptance of all. For the last two years, I’ve walked proudly along my M&S colleagues at the Belfast Pride Parade. 

This year, we’ll be celebrating Pride in the Belfast store, with a few socially distanced drinks and nibbles. All M&S of course - and there’s got to be Yumnuts and our colourful cocktail tins #MyMarksFave.

Reuben Skinner

M&S Belfast store

For Pride 2020, I'm dedicating my time to educating and learning about the people who fought for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly those black and transgender women who started Pride over 50 years ago.

I am fortunate to be able to bring my whole self to work and I want to dedicate my time paying homage to those who fought to get me here.

Heather Cadden

M&S Food Analyst

This year is only my second year celebrating Pride. I’ll be taking time to be open and educate others on what bisexuality means. We are considered the silent majority in the community and, being attracted to more than one gender, we often try to fit in, causing confusion, silence and anxiety. I am thankful to my M&S colleagues and the LGBTQ+ network that allows me to be me.

Lucy Musk

M&S Range & Display Planner

Pride isn’t something that I earned – it’s something I have the privilege of being a part of. Thanks for the people who fought for the rights that I have today. I will continue to fight and add my part to the history of Pride.

This year, I’ll be celebrating Pride at home but I look forward to walking with my M&S colleagues at Cardiff’s second ever Pride next year.

Simon Bonner

M&S Carmarthen store

Pride is all about respecting and celebrating diversity, and boy, don't we need it in 2020! 

Simon Su

M&S Software Engineer