Marks & Spencer’s community investment strategy spans the breadth of the business as well as working at individual store level. Each of their activities is characterized by strong partnerships, inputs and outcomes, allowing for an wide array of ways employees, customers and supply chain partners can be involved.
- The Marks & Start and Make Your Mark programmes support over 3,000 disadvantaged people every year with over 50% of those who complete the programme going into work.
- Ongoing evaluation of Marks & Start participants demonstrates that over 80% feel the placement improved their confidence and feel more motivated and committed towards employment.
- Through Shwopping, Marks & Spencer is helping customers to recycle 20 million items of clothing and raise £14.5 million for Oxfam each year.
- Through carrier bag charging, £5million has been raised for Groundwork, supporting over 100 Greener Living Spaces.
- Marks & Spencer's School of Fish has worked with 400,000 primary school pupils to teach them about protecting the future of fish, and helped engage customers and employees in cleaning over 400 British beaches, twice a year.
- Last year, 450 stores look part in local fundraising, raising £900,000 for 450 charities.
- Nationally, Marks & Spencer has help raise over £1.6m for the Royal British Legion, £20m for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and £4.1 m for Macmillan.
- Marks & Spencer works closely with UNICEF Bangladesh, where the Garment Sector Project saw 1,247 female garment workers receiving tetanus vaccinations, 4,625 people gaining access to potable water, 9,000 young people receiving life skills training and 535 children who were engaged in child labour now attending school.
- Employability programmes ensure that Marks & Spencer gets access to a large pool of job-ready, experienced candidates for any recruitment need, creating a more diverse workforce. It also engages and motivates existing employees who act as buddies.
- Marks & Spencer also reports Marks & Start individuals as becoming some of its most loyal, productive and passionate employees.
- Through its support of Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, footfall into Marks & Spencer Cafés was increased.
- As well as creating brand loyalty and enhancing Marks and Spencer's reputation, Shwopping – particularly the voucher system used in the Clothing Exchange and One Day Wardrobe Clear Out - directly increased footfall in stores.
- The UNICEF Bangladesh Garment Sector Project saw 439 million hangers recycled over the course of the 3 years, and helped sustain Bangladesh as a key sourcing country for M&S clothing.
Marks & Spencer has reviewed and expanded its community investment since its last CommunityMark accreditation in 2011, identifying three ways it positively enhances the communities in which it operates, addressing key social need and generating value for the business. This is through employment, local communities and inspiring its 31 million customers. Marks & Spencer's community engagement partnerships focus on health, particularly cancer, as well as social exclusion and the environment.
Marks & Spencer’s focus on employability is centered around Marks & Start, which gives disadvantaged people opportunities to gain valuable work experience and skills and Make Your Mark, a programme which aims to offer help to 5,000 unemployed 18-24 year olds by 2016. This is now being extended to operations internationally, with programmes already set up in France, Greece and Poland.
“M&S has a really thorough community strategy that encompasses the breadth of the business but acknowledges that individual locations can have an impact in their own way. The three themes link back to the business very clearly and engage staff well, but also the 31m customer they can get involved too.”
Marks & Spencer has also been instrumental in setting up Movement to Work, a wider cross industry collaboration aiming to provide 100,000 youth employment opportunities by 2016. It has engaged hundreds of suppliers in this initiative.
Building on its existing in-store programme, the company recently launched an integrated programme for stores: In Touch with our Community. Every store makes an annual pledge to enhance lives in their local area through Marks & Start and Make Your Mark placements, fundraising for a local charity and using volunteering days in the local community.
“M&S are a fantastic partner in many ways - strategic, collaborative, and visionary whilst being realistic.”
Marks & Spencer continue to ensure there is a trained Plan A champion in each of its 703 stores and six head office locations, who can drive commitments and charitable partnerships. In addition, Marks & Spencer offers employees one day each year to volunteer for an organisation or charity of their choice. It aims for 5,000 employees to take this day each year. Feedback through the CommunityMark assessment shows that involved employees are very positive about the experience and 64% feel more committed to M&S as a result.