Disability confidence & support at M&SDiversity and inclusion are a big part of M&S, so as we recognise the International Day of People with Disabilities by proudly wearing purple this December 3rd, we wanted to share the experiences of our colleagues who identify as disabled, how they feel supported in their roles and how our Buddy Network has helped them.
Judi has worked within retail M&S for 15 years and is diagnosed with hyper mobility syndrome, type 2 diabetes, fibromyalgia and arthritis. Her role has changed over the years to suit her changing needs in the workplace. She explains:
“My store management team have been very accommodating and have helped me by changing my job role and hours where possible and I am now predominately in the admin office which I love or on a sit down till when needed. I am very grateful for this as this ensures I am able to keep working.”
Packaging Artworker Laura has Type 1 Diabetes and uses a portable insulin pump attached to her body that can input insulin 24/7. She has found The Buddy Network to be a great support system and resource for those days when she just cannot cope with her illness.
“The Buddy Network is a place we can talk and be listened to without judgement. It is amazing that M&S has this available to us. My managers are incredibly flexible in me attending the many hospital appointments I require and with working from home on the days where my diabetes has been particularly erratic. M&S is a bit like a big family, my team know when I may be having a bad day, they always ask how I am and take the time to learn about my illness.”
Following a motorbike accident in 2016, Commercial Administrator David was advised by Doctors that his injury required amputation of his arm to prevent necrosis and gangrene. Defying all odds with great determination and strength of character he rehabilitated himself via exercise with great inspiration from videos such as Renegades by X-Ambassadors and The Little Person Inside.
“It was seeing others who had chosen to carry on and to overcome that gave me the strength to carry on and overcome at a point where I was almost ready to give up,” he says.
David is now a very active member of the Buddy Network, using his experience to offer support to others:
“I joined as a person who is (mostly) fit and healthy and is happy to offer help and support from a place of empathy...even if it’s something mundane like carrying something for someone less able so that they don’t burden themselves.”
As we work hard to be an accessible retailer both online, in store and for our colleagues, M&S have:
• Created a ‘Disability Confident Top Tips’ video to support our colleagues in making all our customers feel welcome – and to help you them feel confident in doing the right thing.
• Introduced the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Lanyard which has been purposefully designed to lets us know that customers may have a hidden disability and would appreciate a little extra help when shopping in our stores.
• Created a sensory friendly shopping guide for store managers who would like to introduce Sensory Shopping friendly hours where no music, reduced noise and lighting are implemented for a dedicated time each week. A deaf awareness guide has also been introduced to support people with hearing loss in our stores.
• A Living and Working Well at M&S Guide for colleagues with disabilities and health conditions and their line managers.
• Added audio description to our Clothing & Home Christmas Ad this year.
• Launched a Wellbeing in Retail programme, developed in partnership with the Samaritans.
• Launched the high street’s first Kids-wear range for children with disabilities.
This International Day of People with Disabilities, M&S will continue to raise awareness and ensure all our colleagues feel disability confident.