3 July, 2015

Developing and celebrating talent in our local community

“My name is Sophie and I work as Employee Engagement Manager here at M&S. We are delighted to have successfully completed our second School Mentoring Programme with Westminster Academy, which is local to our Head Office in London. 

I set up the mentoring programme as part of our diversity and inclusion strategy, with the aim of investing in the talent of the future. It was designed to create a mutual relationship that creates benefits for the students by giving them insight into business and encourage effective career planning, whilst also supporting our employees with their own personal development.

Over the last two years we have trained over 50 M&S employees to become mentors for students in years 10-13 at Westminster Academy. The school has 1175 students aged 11-18  and is extremely diverse with over 98% of students coming from ethnic minority groups and 88% of the students having English as an additional language. 

I chose to work with Westminster Academy as they are a local school in our office community, but also due to the rich diversity of the students. This programme has been an investment from M&S in developing young, diverse talent of the future, and it has been fantastic to see some of the older students come on work experience placements in our stores, and even secure part time jobs with us! 

Throughout the course of the programme, our mentors have had 1:1 mentoring sessions with their mentees every 4-6 weeks and covered topics such as resilience and tenacity, time management, employability skills, CV writing, brand image, and how to be brilliant. During the year we have also run a Myers Briggs Type Indicator session for the mentees to look at their personality types and how that might affect the way they approach relationships, work and their future plans.  

I was delighted to recently hold a celebration event for the programme at Westminster Academy, where a number of our mentors and their mentees shared their experience of the programme and talked about how valuable the mentoring relationships had been to them – demonstrating how this programme has been a mutually beneficial partnership. Some of our mentors have already committed to continuing mentoring their student next year, and others are waiting with baited breath to see their exam results later in the summer! 

At M&S we aim to ensure everyone is offered the opportunity to achieve their full potential, realising that our differences make us stronger, thus encouraging everyone to be whoever they want to be. Not only are we responsive to the needs of our employees and customers, we also take pride in the role we play in the community through our various employability programmes, such as Marks & Start.

This article originally appeared on the M&S Corporate Blog

Inside M&S
30 June, 2015

New foodhall? Time to step up to the plate.

“I’m Derek, Store Manager at our new Foodhall in St Andrews. In the last year, we opened 62 Foodhalls and we’ve got many more in the pipeline. I’ve been at the sharp end of this expansion. In fact, St Andrews is the fourth new store opening in Scotland that I’ve been involved in.

“I suppose when M&S have identified a site for a new store they turn to me to get it off the ground because of my long experience in retail. It was back in 1976 that I joined Safeway as a Grocery Assistant and started working my way up. Thirty-nine years later I’ve still got the hunger for retail and last year M&S made me Store Manager of the Year for the Scotland North region, so I’m still doing something right!

“But the fact is, a new store opening is never down to any one individual; it really is a team effort. I work closely with other store managers and colleagues at head office to get everything ready and then it’s down to the store team when we open our doors. The great thing about M&S is that everyone is passionate about their role. People care about standards and always think ‘customer first’. And nor do we see a new M&S store as just a place to shop. When we become part of a new community we always get involved with local schools and charities.

“It’s hard work but I know how to unwind. Two grandchildren keep me busy and I love my northern soul music. And another favourite indulgence is the top crust fish pie from our new meal range – there, that’s my secret out!”

Inside M&S
15 June, 2015

Our differences make us stronger

"Hi, I’m Fiona and I’ve been with M&S for 10 years, how time flies! I work in HR and I am currently the International Employee Relations Manager for the business. This role is really varied, so I get involved in everything from complex business change programmes, writing policies to make sure we have an attractive people proposition, to working on our diversity and inclusion strategy. 

"In 2014, I launched our first women’s network, which was set up to promote the progress of women, and to provide informal mentoring and networking opportunities. This network gives my colleagues access to a range of inspirational role models, whilst also creating a forum to explore and address the career challenges women face. 

"At M&S we recognise the importance of having a diverse workforce and are committed to creating equal opportunities for everyone. This begins with our recruitment and selection procedures, and runs through the core of what we do.

"We understand that our differences make us stronger, encouraging everyone to be who they want to be. We respond to the needs of our employees and customers, taking pride in the role we play in the community through our employability programmes including Marks and Start and Make Your Mark

"As part of the diversity and inclusion strategy, I am working in my team to develop initiatives and procedures to enhance opportunity, creativity, innovation, diversity and personal development. The case for driving a culture inclusive of varied talent is well established; a diverse leadership team gives us an advantage to help place us as an employer of choice.

"We’ve invested in a number of pilot schemes, including cross business mentoring, run by the Government backed 30% Club, which aims to increase the number of women in FTSE 100 Boards. We’ve also partnered with a local school to provide 1:1 mentoring support for around 50 female students between the ages of 15 and 17. In addition, we’ve just piloted our first development programme solely for women.

"We’ve been one of the Times Top 50 Employers for Women for the last few years, which is a fantastic achievement. Our aim is to employ a workforce that reflects the diverse community we serve and maximise both personal and commercial opportunities."   

Inside M&S
15 June, 2015

A name not a number

“Hello, I’m Aysen, a Finance Manager in Group Planning & Analysis who joined M&S some seven-and-a-half years into my finance career. After graduating, I worked in audit for one of the ‘Big 4’ and then a multinational retailer. This experience convinced me that retail was definitely the sector for me and I’d heard only positive things about M&S, especially the way they look after their people and let them develop.

“First impressions count and I knew when I met people at interview that I would fit into the M&S culture and this would be a company I’d be proud to work for. The induction was very useful and well organised, too. I was given an overview of the business and met other new joiners as well as my line manager and team. This was followed by a week in store, which was very insightful and gave me a great understanding of how everything works.

“From there it’s been onwards and upwards. I’ve a great team and managers are really supportive, which helps to create a positive working environment. There’s a strong focus on career progression and everyone is encouraged to make the most of the opportunities available. M&S is also an exciting place to work. Innovation and continuous improvement are part of our DNA and I’m given the freedom to challenge current practices and bring new ideas to the table to drive efficiencies. It’s really motivating to know that I’m adding value in my role – and being noticed and valued by others for the contribution I make.”

Inside M&S


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