CELEBRATING INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES
Meet Nathan, who joined us in 2010 on the Marks & Start programme. “It was a huge thing for me starting in the business. It gave me the self-confidence I needed and basically changed my life,” he says. That’s why he’s now giving something back by acting as an ambassador for the programme and a buddy for new joiners.
Nathan’s now thriving as a Learning Administrator in our HR Shared Services team in Salford Quays, Manchester, organising and booking workshops for employees across our business. He’s a ‘Plan A’ representative, working on its values and charity commitments. And, believing it’s important to get to know your colleagues, he’s first to volunteer to arrange social events, the latest being a wine and tapas evening.
But if Nathan is passionate about the Marks & Start programme and what it can do for young people, as a “happy and openly gay male”, he’s also passionate about LGBT, believing that our diversity and inclusion agenda defines M&S.
Nathan attended the 2016 M&S Pride Parade in Manchester and this year he’s part of our Pride planning team. “Last year, we had a fantastic time and to represent LGBT and M&S was a remarkable experience,” he says. “There was a lot of solidarity with colleagues from across the business and we all had a huge amount of fun. Everyone made a real effort to ensure it was such a success – hopefully, this year we can make it even better!”
Nathan believes that LGBT has enabled him to understand what a positive thing being different can be and Pride provides a platform for that. “Pride means a lot to me. It’s a chance to celebrate our differences and unique qualities as individuals. But it’s also a reminder of how far the LGBT community has come and how we support each other. Pride also has allowed me to delve into the history and background of our community and how we continue to grow.”
School can be a challenging experience at the best of times and Nathan found that being gay, and often confused, made it even harder. But growing up, deciding to come out and marrying the love of his life, Nathan feels that he can now be himself and comfortable with who he is.
So is there more acceptance of men who are openly gay? “There are still things happening to the LGBT community in parts of the world that are unimaginable. But I do believe that over time these issues will finally pass, especially if we support one another.”
And support is something Nathan feels he has always received from his manager, colleagues and the wider business.
“I believe that M&S encourages everyone to be themselves and express their personalities. I can always be myself at work and I haven’t experienced any ‘issues’ regarding my sexuality,” he says. “M&S has a great track record in supporting different communities and individuals. For example, we have an LGBT support network on our internal social networking site, Yammer, where anyone can go to share ideas and opinions or ask for support or guidance they need – it’s a great way to help build the LGBT community within M&S. On Yammer, there’s also a Buddy Network where people can access support and information on a whole range of topics.”
Enjoy Pride 2017 – as we certainly will.