Pride at M&S

In June, we rocked Pride Month with our LGBTQ+ network leading the way. From marches to playlists, we're all in. Learn more about how we celebrated Pride this month in a blog by myGwork.

M&S is home to almost 70,000 colleagues across the UK and Republic of Ireland. From our stores to our support and distribution centres, our colleagues are our most important asset. And in the same way that unique ingredients make up our delicious own-brand food products, our diverse and special colleagues are our secret sauce for making M&S a great place to work and a great place to shop for our customers.

As a staple of the British high street for over 130 years, the brand can often be perceived as traditional. But that’s far from the truth when you come to work for us. We’re continuously innovating and, most importantly, listening to what our colleagues and customers want. To do this successfully, we’re committed to inclusion. Because the most successful businesses are made up of diversity of thought and experience.

Like many other businesses around the world, M&S makes Pride month a focus of our employee activity throughout June. Led by our 800-member strong LGBTQ+ network, our aim is to involve our whole workforce in a variety of events and each year we aim to go bigger and better!

Throughout June, our LGBTQ+ network hosted a number of fireside chats. In these sessions, members of the network led discussions on topics important to the community – from visibility to intersectionality. They were open to everyone and got brilliant feedback from our attendees.

For our stores and distribution centres, we shared decorations, T-shirts and educational collateral to allow colleagues to celebrate Pride month in their teams and strike up conversations around the importance of Pride to them. And how we celebrate is important to our customers too. Over 40,000 people engaged with social media posts from our stores about their Pride celebrations on Facebook alone.

This year, over 300 of our colleagues will have attended 5 Pride marches across all corners of the UK and Northern Ireland. We even had a custom-designed float in the London Pride parade for the first time. It was an incredible showing of love, support and acceptance to our colleagues and customers from the LGBTQ+ community and the feedback from the attendees was amazing.

Visual Merchandising Communications Manager, Lee Diamond said,

“This was a year of ‘Firsts’ for me - my first London Pride, first Pride at M&S and my very first time participating in a parade. The whole day was such a celebration of how far we have come as a community, as well as raising awareness that there is still so much more that we need to do.

Taking part in the parade was exciting and there was an amazing, positive, loving energy that you could feel coming back to you from everyone watching."

It was great to be able to represent M&S and have fellow colleagues from across the business uniting together, whether they represented parts of the LGBTQ+ community or were an ally. I can’t wait to do it all again next year and I hope by being able to live our authentic selves, it will encourage more people to feel they too can be who they want to be and live their life to its fullest without fear of judgement or prejudice.”

Our celebrations didn’t stop with our colleagues though. We also involved our customers too. For the whole month, all of our 600+ stores played a Pride inspired playlist with tracks chosen by the members of our LGBTQ+ network. Many of our stores were decked out with window displays and we even lit our Stevenage store in rainbow lights to show our solidarity with the community. We also encouraged our customers to switch their chosen beneficiary charity to AKT through the Sparks app for the month of June. AKT are an exceptional charity who raise vital funds to support young LGBTQ+ people facing homelessness. Over 5000 customers made the switch to AKT in June, adding to the £30,000 already raised for the charity since 2020 through Sparks donations.

The culmination of these events across the nation undoubtedly make us very proud. However, curating such a large and impactful calendar of activity isn’t easy. With help from our Comms teams, in-store teams, PR teams and, of course, our I&D team, the calendar of activity took around 9 months to organise. But this isn’t just what the LGBTQ+ network want to do, it’s what our colleagues and customers have come to expect in celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and marking Pride.

The conversation doesn’t end in June for our business. The LGBTQ+ network meet regularly to discuss how we can further improve M&S for the community and allies. We are also consulted on new product ranges in both foods and clothing & home that would appeal to and continue the conversation for the LGBTQ+ community in the places we serve. Alongside our 6 other colleague networks, our voices are heard, and our opinions matter to our leadership team all year round.

M&S’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community isn’t just for show. Inclusion and diversity are strategic pillars for our business, and you really feel that working here, making it an inviting place for new colleagues and a welcoming place to shop for our customers. 

The blog was originally published by MyGWork here.

Learn more about our commitment to inclusion and diversity here.

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