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Four years ago, on a sunny July day, I had the pleasure of being part of M&S’s first Pride March in London. It was a brilliant day and I met so many amazing people with their own story and reasons for being there. Since then M&S's LGBTQ+ network, which I’m proud to co-chair, has helped more colleagues take part in more Pride marches up and down the country. This year we plan to be waving the rainbow flag proudly at least ten Pride marches starting in Birmingham this weekend.

The Birmingham City Centre store has a dedicated window display ahead of Pride. The display contains coloured hearts featuring the names of people from across our business and the names of their loved ones. And fifteen other stores who are celebrating in their cities will get one including Manchester, Belfast and London.

As well as the windows, for the second year running, we have created a sandwich as part of the celebrations. This year we have launched a special edition LGBT sandwich – a twist on the traditional BLT with Lettuce, Guac, Bacon & Tomato and we’ve had great feedback from our customers and colleagues. .

In a few weeks’ time we’re also releasing a number of limited-edition men’s and women’s t-shirts which we are selling online and in five stores (London Marble Arch, London Pantheon, Brighton, Belfast & Manchester).

Alongside this, M&S is donating £20,000 to akt the national LGBTQ+ Youth Homelessness charity and €1000 to BeLonG To Youth Services for LGBTI+ young people in Ireland. This amount forms part of M&S’s wider community donations, which last year exceeded £13.6m and the charities were chosen by people in the LGBTQ+ network at M&S. 

I’m also proud that a number of colleagues from the LGBTQ+ network are also volunteering this summer with akt to help decorate one of their halfway houses in London which is an important part of us helping to give back to our local communities.

We now have over 800 active colleagues who use their passion and energy to shape the future of LGBTQ+ inclusion within the business. Working closely together we can work towards the goal of creating an environment where everyone can be themselves and bring their whole-self to work. To find out more about the network and to see pics of us celebrating pride follow @mandslgbtq blog.