Inclusion & Diversity
Find out about our approach to Inclusion & Diversity
At M&S we understand the importance of respecting and valuing each other’s differences and helping each other to be the best version of ourselves. When our people can bring their whole selves to work, we know they feel better and perform better – which is good for all of us. We also know that to continue to be successful, we must understand and reflect our diverse customer base and the communities in which they live. We’re part of hundreds of communities across the country – so we’re supporting community inclusion causes we know our colleagues and customers care about the most.
Approach & Governance
We’ve made several steps to further promote and enhance inclusion and diversity at M&S, including forming a new strategy aimed at creating an inclusive culture within a diverse environment for our colleagues, customers and communities. In May 2021, an activation group of senior leaders was created to bring our revised Inclusion and Diversity Strategy to life across M&S. The group meet each quarter to discuss and agree progress against 8 key priorities:
Diversifying our recruitment, including Early Careers
Internal careers, talent development and succession planning
Sponsorship and reverse mentoring
Expanding our knowledge via I&D education and learning
Building I&D plans for use across M&S
Elevating and creating awareness of our 'Zero Tolerance' stance on racist, homophobic, other non-inclusive behaviours
Celebrating our multi-faith, multi-cultural colleagues and communities
Knowing who we are: better data on our colleagues, customers and communities
Recruitment & Talent
To help us to recruit, retain and develop diverse talent, we have targets in place for ethnic minorities and women in management. Our commitment is to have 50% female representation and 15% ethnic minority representation in our senior management by 2022.
We became the first national retailer to support the 10,000 Black Interns initiative, which aims to tackle the under-representation of Black talent
We’ve also introduced an inclusion training programme for all our colleagues to take part in and developed a reverse mentoring programme for Black store colleagues and senior leaders.
Customer Inclusion & Diversity
We’re ensuring that inclusivity is fully embedded into the way we do business, from the ranges we sell and how we market them to how we present our stores.
We were the first national retailer to introduce Sunflower Lanyards to all our stores in 2019, supporting people with hidden disabilities to feel confident when shopping in our stores. We’ve published ‘AccessAble’ guides in all our stores, providing information on accessibility for disabled people and their carers to use. The guides are available on our M&S store locator, and list everything such as lighting levels to the number of accessible car parking spaces. Find out more about Accessibility at M&S.
We’re constantly working to make sure our marketing is more inclusive and uses a more diverse mix of models, including people of different race, ethnicity, shape, size and disability. We’re always looking at our products to see how we can make our offer more relevant for all of our customers. For example, in June 2021 we were proud to launch a new range of lingerie called ‘new neutrals’ – offering more colours, more sizes and more choice within neutral (also known as nude) bras and knickers, giving customers the freedom to complement or contrast their skin tone. In August 2021, M&S Beauty launched the expansion of M&S Autograph foundation – seeing the range offer 30 different shades of colour v.s. previously offering 10 shades.
Our dynamic programme of activity is supported by our colleague networks, all of which hold events, celebrate key events in the inclusion calendar and raise important discussions via their online social communities. Our networks include:
The Buddy Network
Supporting colleagues to manage their own mental and physical health challenges or to support the disabilities or health conditions of others. It is a safe place to share your journey, ideas, personal stories, coping strategies and top tips.
The Culture & Heritage Network
For everyone who wants to make M&S a more inclusive place to work, regardless of race, faith or culture: - this group is about promoting racial and religious equality and diversity and provides a space to discuss, question, challenge and take action. The network hosts exclusive events, including Black History Month, to celebrate the past, promote the present and build for the future.
The Family & Carers Network
Representing the different types of families that exist, and acts as a support network and sounding board for ideas and suggestions. It also includes an interactive blog, where colleagues can post or hear from their peer’s’ experiences of becoming a parent or carer.
The Gender Equality Network
The GEN group is focused on working to deliver a gender balanced workforce, by driving gender awareness, and encouraging the development of female talent to bring about a better gender mix at a senior level.
The LGBTQ+ Network
A community who promote equality, celebrate inclusivity and diversity, and encourage everyone to be themselves, whatever their sexual or gender identity. This network focuses on creating an inclusive culture for our colleagues, customers and communities.
The Menopause Network
The Menopause Network is a forum for all colleagues to share their experiences and concerns, as well as interesting facts and articles on the subject. Our aim is to help others feel comfortable to talk about the subject openly, as well as providing a listening ear and helping to turn this into a positive experience.
The Veterans Network
A community of ex-Forces personnel, who welcome anyone who is interested in M&S’s commitment to The Armed Forces Corporate Covenant. This Network aims to raise awareness of veterans in our workplace and supports business wide activities relating to the Armed Forces community.
Working with Others
We continue to work with leading organisations including: Business in the Community, Retail Week’s Be Inspired programme (for which a number of our senior leaders serve as Ambassadors), the 30% club, Halo Collective, Working Families, Employers for Carers, PurpleSpace, The Valuable 500 and the Armed Forces Covenant. In 2021, our Group Head of Inclusion & Diversity was also appointed as a Government Ambassador for Disability and Access for the retail industry – a voluntary honorary role working across the retail sector.
Last year, we expanded our Sparks programme and now support 35 charity partners, including akt, The Black Curriculum and Blueprint For All. M&S will donate 1p to our customers' chosen charity every time they shop with their Sparks card.