M&S to take “urgent action” on racism and diversity

Marks & Spencer Steve Rowe M&S
M&S has expanded the range of organisations it supports through its Sparks loyalty programme
// Marks & Spencer will take action to ensure the company addresses issues of diversity
// The initiative came after Black Lives Matter protests took place internationally

Marks & Spencer chief executive Steve Rowe has reportedly pledged to take “urgent action” to address racism and diversity in the wake of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

He wrote in a message to staff that the actions taken by the retailer so far were not good enough and it will consider a “much overdue review of our approach to diversity and inclusion”.

After the killing of George Floyd in the US sparked BLM demonstrations across the globe, Rowe told employees that he hoped the incident would be “a catalyst for the world to face into the challenge of systemic racism and take meaningful action,” Retail Week reported.


Rowe said that as a “privileged white man” he has been spending time reflecting a lot on what has happened and what M&S needs to do about it.

He added that for M&S to be able to say it was “truly diverse and inclusive” it needed to reflect that as an employer, including how and where it recruits; as a retailer, including the ranges it carries and store layouts; and as a business with stores in many communities.

As part of its ambitions to be an active participant in the neighbourhoods where it trades, M&S has expanded the range of organisations it supports through its Sparks loyalty programme.

M&S it to back the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and The Black Curriculum. Rowe said the partnerships are being starting with a direct donation.

“To all of our black colleagues and to any colleague who has faced prejudice, ignorance or injustice, I may not always get it right but I am with you all the way in mind and in heart,” Rowe said.

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  1. I think Steve Rowe needs to look at other aspects of the running of the stores.
    I worked for them for 14 months and was appalled at the way the store operated.
    I’m talking about double standards, completely ignoring problems with certain members of staff regarding mental abuse.

    • Spot on. Totally agree with you.
      I worked for the company for 23 years.
      Major changes needed.
      Especially at this moment in time. When so many staff have been furloughed and others are slogging their cuts out.

  2. I think the only reason Rowe is supporting BLM is totally political bowing down to pressure. My sister worked for them for twenty years! Rowe is such a hypocrite!!

  3. In 1971, when I started in clothing retail, M&S was a beacon of shining light for others to follow. That was light years ago. The M&S change over time has been a ‘drift’. It has never been brave enough to face the deep issues confronting the business.

    All I see now is a strategy of surrender in (women’s) clothing, the closure of stores and a championing of its food stores. This is running away from the M&S core strength in clothing!

    M&S needs to stop and breathe! A strategy of seismic change is needed for a connected, multi-generational, multi-cultural and multi-religious world. The Britain of today.

    The M&S business is always talking about ‘getting close to customers’ and attracting the ‘younger customer’. Well, now is the time for ‘relevance’ and ‘content’ and a new foundation for the M&S business that focuses its core strength and wins.

  4. A leader of M&S needs to inspire, motivate and lead. Judging from comments, Stephen Rowe does not have these qualities. His latest comments on how M&S is lacking owes a lot to political expediency (imo). I think now that Stephen Rowe’s days at M&S could be numbered?

  5. Look at M&S online store. Most fashion models are black. Weird for an European brand. If half are and black and half are white, OK. I would understand. But 90% are black. This is not diversity. This is racism agains white people. Where does this end?

    • I agree with both of you ladies, regarding the mannequins. I was in M&S yesterday. about 90% of the mannequins and pictures around the store were black. I felt insulted and very sad.
      We are supposed to be creating equality for all people. This store is not for white people like me anymore.

  6. Pandering to political correctness. Last time I was in M&S, there were hardly any white mannequins in the shop. Obviously the 82% aren’t welcome. Like Sainsburys.

  7. M&S makes me feel I am living in Africa. Browsing through their site today I noted Nearly ALL the knitwear models are black. Bend over backwards to please a minority at the expense of the majority makes little sense. This is blatant racism against white customers who feel marginalised, valueless and ignored. I was in M&S Oxford Street yesterday and there were more staff than customers, the store was almost empty! Too many bad decisions steering this once great brand into the dustbin of oblivion and this latest decision to exclude white customers is probably one bad marketing decision too many!

  8. That’s the thing, you see. ALL customers like to see themselves represented, including the Chinese, Greek Cypriots, Indians and even white people. I will shop at Bon Marche from now on. They respect their long term customers. Plus, their jeans actually fit.

  9. I was so disgusted to see a lack of White Models on the Marks and Spencer, website that I wrote to the company and made a complaint. I received a reply stating that their website is World wide??? Pathetic excuse:-) – It sounds as if this Steve Rowe, who’s apparently a self confessed White Privileged Male:-) is both naive and uninformed, BLM is a MARXIST organization. So now the head of an iconic British, company is now a supporter of MARXISM?. I will not buy from any stupid WOKE company and suggest the buying public do the same. Then these pathetic companies will soon come to their senses. The buying public have the power – use it!

  10. Just went on the M&S website, all black models. Left shortly after. They don’t seem to like the majority of this country anymore; how ridiculous this looks in most of the UK. 13% of population yet they are the majority on retailers like M&S, ASOS, IKEA etc. Hope they go broke the racists.

  11. It isn’t just Marks and Spencer, look at Boden and Seasalt who are going the same way, as are the supplements of weekend newspapers – there is rarely a white model to be seen . When will these companies and Fashion editors realise that they are alienating the very people who made M&S etc the successes they were.


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