22 May, 2017

Making every career special

“There’s a willingness at M&S for the management to learn and change for the benefit of all deaf colleagues working here.”

In light of Deaf Awareness Week, we spoke to Spencer, a Team Coordinator in Pick Automation at our Castle Donington Distribution Centre, a BIG Representative and a talented golfer. As the first deaf person to be promoted to a management role at M&S, Spencer has an inspiring story to tell about his career journey with M&S – and he has big ambitions for the future too.

“Before joining M&S, I’d been in employment for over 27 years. During all that time, I never once had access to communication in my first language of British Sign Language (BSL). I’d attended conferences. I’d given presentations myself. I’d even been through a redundancy process, ALL without the use of an interpreter. Eventually, I’d had enough and took voluntary redundancy from my last role.

“To be honest, I expected the same when I applied to M&S to be a Warehouse Operative. So I was shocked, amazed and very pleasantly surprised to discover their approach was mightily different. From my first day of training I was provided with Sign Language Interpreters. Some colleagues and managers were provided with BSL and Deaf awareness training. All of this really helped my confidence in working towards promotions and award nominations. I progressed to become an Ops support colleague, and have now risen to a Team Coordinator role. Becoming the first deaf manager is an achievement of which I’m very proud (on a par with becoming champion and secretary of the England Deaf Golf organisation).

“At present, I’m enjoying the opportunity to liaise closely with colleagues in my role as a Team Coordinator, as well as a BIG Rep – and I am now working with my managers to assist me in my next goal of becoming a Team Manager.

“Ultimately I have to give credit to M&S for providing regular interpreters and for improving the deaf awareness around the warehouse. I’ve just contributed to two days of Deaf Awareness Week in the main communications hub. This was very successful, thanks to some of the SLT who were vocal in the need of the whole warehouse to support us. 

“There’s no doubt that M&S have helped me have a happy working life. If you are a deaf person yourself, you can come here knowing there will be greater opportunities to develop than in most other places you could work. “

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