11 June, 2018

A friend to the cause

Although James, Store Manager in our Banbury Gateway store, doesn’t identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, he’s a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community. “I think it’s fantastic that M&S is asking people to be themselves at work and that this is becoming ingrained in everything we do. I used to work with one of the group of staff that founded the Network so have been there since the beginning, and the work they are doing internally continues to accelerate.”

“One of the things I most like about M&S is that I have always felt comfortable being myself. In fact, some of the most inspirational leaders I have worked with have actively encouraged me to be ‘more... me.’”

And attitudes are changing toward the LGBTQ+ community, “I think if you used the phrase LGBT+ even five years ago to straight, white males like me you might have just got a shrug of the shoulders as to what it even meant. I think this shows the way the world has changed and how wherever anyone finds themselves on the LGBT+ spectrum they are increasingly recognised for who they are. However, I still feel there is a long way to go.”

But there is still much that can be done to improve society’s perception of the LGBTQ+ community, “personally I believe that there is a dangerous lack of training and empathy around how to support transgender customers in the retail sector. People without knowledge or first-hand experience (for example having friends who identify as Trans) are not confident in how to sensitively and properly help customers.”

M&S is proud to support allies of the LGBTQ+ community as well as the community itself, “I believe the steps that M&S has taken to embrace the LGBT community in the last few years has been extremely positive. I am proud to work in a business where difference is embraced, and diversity celebrated. However, I think there is still a long way to go and not everyone shares these values and beliefs. We need to continue to work hard to make sure that every single person in M&S feels comfortable being themselves and that there is no taboo stopping them reaching their potential within our organisation.”

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