Meet M&S Sustainability Coordinator, Rachael

In honour of Green Careers Week, we’re shining a spotlight on the exceptional individuals who are driving sustainability forward at M&S. Meet Sustainability Coordinator, Rachael, who is passionately committed to advancing sustainability in Retail. In this interview, she shares her journey, her role in our sustainability initiatives, and her insights on making a difference in the world. 

Hi Rachael, can you tell us about your career journey and how you ended up working in sustainability at M&S? 

After completing my degree in Geography & Environmental Management, I started my career as a Graduate Environmental Consultant at an engineering company. Within this position, my responsibilities included overseeing and guiding developments through the planning process, particularly focusing on water and contamination risk. It was during the Covid pandemic that I came to recognise my passion for sustainability within the retail supply chain. I applied for this position at M&S, and luckily, the role required knowledge of water and contamination risks. 

Tell us more about your role? 

The Clothing & Home sustainability team is divided into two project areas – Raw Materials & Environmental Management. I work on the Environmental Management side of the team, implementing environmental improvement projects within our supply chain to reach our Net Zero targets. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in sustainability? 

When I was younger, my childhood was centered around being outdoors, so naturally, I was enthusiastic about the environment. When it came to making career decisions, I knew I wanted to work in sustainability for corporations as they are having the greatest impact on the environment and, therefore, I could make the biggest difference. The fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to climate change, but it is also leading out of all industries in implementing environmental strategies and making a positive change. 

How does your job contribute to M&S's sustainability goals? 

M&S has a goal to eliminate all potentially hazardous chemicals from their production. I manage our chemical management programme by implementing industry-best practice across our supply chain. This is to stop potentially harmful chemicals being used in the production of M&S products and, consequently, preventing them from being discharged into the environment. 

What are some of the key sustainability initiatives or projects you've been involved in at M&S? 

The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) project helps the whole industry align in setting expectations for suppliers around selecting the best chemical inputs, how to effectively manage chemical processes, and how to prevent chemical outputs, to overall promote more sustainable chemistry within the industry. 

Working with a global team and witnessing sustainability projects being implemented by our suppliers is a highly fulfilling experience. Our suppliers actively engage in conversations, demonstrating their willingness to comprehend and further support our sustainability initiatives to collectively achieve our sustainability goals. 

How do your personal values align with M&S's mission and values? 

I believe it is up to companies to drive sustainability and to be transparent with their customers. M&S is a responsible retailer who is actively engaging in improving the sustainability of our products to help our customers make better, more conscious decisions. 

What advice do you have for individuals interested in pursuing a career in sustainability? 

Find the industry you are passionate about and do lots of research into how it functions. Skills in sustainability are highly transferrable across various industries; however, it can be quite challenging to comprehend the intricacies of how an industry operates, including aspects such as policy implementation and supply chain management. 

Learn more about our commitment to sustainability and download our latest Plan A report here.

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