Big Retailer M&S Makes Big Changes Towards D&I

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Despite the £1.3 trillion spending power the Black population has globally, Black representation is lacking across the retail industry. M&S are committed to changing this imbalance by creating positive experiences for their customers and colleagues alike.

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, global retailers have made various pledges to be more inclusive, whether that’s through enhancing equality in their leadership ranks or by featuring diversity-driven products in their stores. The M&S launch of a neutral range of lingerie in seven different nude shades is just one example.

M&S are among the global companies that have committed to supporting colleagues from all backgrounds by doing more and embedding a truly diverse and inclusive environment in which everyone is respected and celebrated.

In just a few years, they have introduced a number of additional initiatives to support colleagues from ethnic minority backgrounds as part of their Inclusion and Diversity strategy, which is underpinned by their Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunities policy.

M&S is working hard to boost inclusion and eliminate unconscious bias in their recruitment process. Their website includes more information about their colleague-led inclusion networks. Meanwhile, the retailer’s RISE Program (Recognising Internal Store Experience) widens access to opportunities, making it easier for colleagues to progress internally.

Their Reverse Mentoring initiative is helping to deepen their colleagues understanding of a range of beliefs, cultures, and backgrounds by exposing them to different lived experiences. (Reverse mentoring is often cited as a major benefit by c-suite level Black professionals in the BYP Network.)

M&S was also the first major retailer to offer placements for at least five Black students when the 10,000 Black Interns program launched in late 2021. The initiative seeks to address the under-representation of Black talent by offering internships across a wide range of industries across the UK.

They’re also proud to celebrate Black History Month. As well as donating to Spark charities such as The Black Curriculum and Blueprint for All, M&S works closely with its colleague-led Culture and Heritage network to host various Black History-themed events.

Jacynta, a Deputy Store Manager in Operations and Hospitality, is one of the M&S colleagues who got involved last year.

“I’ve been involved in discussions for Black History Month on what it’s like to be a Black colleague at M&S, Reverse Mentoring, and I’m a member of the Culture and Heritage network,” says Jacynta. “All of which has allowed me to educate and support change across the business to increase Inclusion and Diversity. I also help future leaders who wish to follow in my footsteps have an easier career journey, by inspiring future leaders and being the example of change and proof of talent and hard work.”

M&S has come a long way, but they know that there’s more to be done. The BYP Network is excited to partner with them, supporting their mission of attracting, engaging, recruiting, and retaining Black talent.

Take a look at the M&S employer page on our BYP jobs board and discover their latest vacancies.

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