23 June, 2017

One Year On For A Pride Champion

If you were tuned into our insider stories this time last year, you might remember us talking to Stephen. He’s the Fire, Health and Safety Officer at our Southampton West Quay store. But as a gay man who valued the love, support and respect he received from his colleagues when he decided to come out, he’s also someone for whom Pride is an annual event to be truly cherished.

“Pride is special to me; it means to be accepted by everyone, anyone, anywhere, anytime,” he told us at the time. “It means to be who I am and not who I have to be.”

Last year, Stephen took part in London and Manchester Pride, wearing one of our specially made ‘M&S Be Yourself’ t-shirts. He has particularly fond memories of the colourful and ebullient pre-Pride gathering. As this year’s Pride Festival approaches, however, he’s poised to take on a more active role.

That’s because Stephen has become the M&S LGBTQ+ Pride Event Planner for our London and Southern Regions. “I’ll be playing a huge part in organising London Pride for the business and helping any stores keen to take part in a Pride event in their local area – guiding them through best practice, that sort of thing. This year, we’re expanding our Pride activities and making the celebrations more exciting than ever before. There are more awareness and support events, we’ve introduced new corporate t-shirts, our window displays are reaching more and more stores, and we’ll be holding both pre- and post-Pride gatherings. Naturally any suggestions on how we can make Pride an even more spectacular event in the M&S calendar will be gratefully received!”

Stephen believes that M&S is becoming an increasingly inclusive employer that is reaping the benefits of having a diverse workforce. With constant reviews of our diversity policy and sustained investment in Pride and other LGBTQ+ events, ‘Being Yourself’ is a message that we’re championing right across our business.

“Pride symbolises equality; it tells me to be proud of who I am and to not let it hold me back,” Stephen says. “I also believe in being vocal within M&S LGBTQ+ conversations whether it be through the business wide internal social media platform, Yammer network or even just in the store. This helps to raise awareness for those who may need support. To me, Pride also symbolises one of the M&S values: Integrity. Together, we are one business and we will succeed because of our people.”   

Becoming LGBTQ+ Pride Event Planner is Stephen’s proudest moment at M&S. “It allows me to make a real change in how the company can better support LGBTQ people. I can be me and help others to be themselves.”

Follow @mandstalent and @marksandspencer on Twitter for live updates during the Pride events.

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