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Home / case studies / Case study: How Marks & Spencer helps young people into work by opening up vocational training and work placement opportunities

Case study: How Marks & Spencer helps young people into work by opening up vocational training and work placement opportunities

As a global retailer with over 1,300 stores worldwide, employing 83,000 people, M&S is well-placed to address the issue of youth unemployment, creating, through Plan A 2020, vocational training and work placement opportunities for young unemployed people.

This case study is based on the 2015 Plan A Report by M&S published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate that CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly is achieved by identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment and stakeholders and by measuring, managing and changing.

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M&S has launched a range of employability programmes aimed at unemployed young people.  Tweet This! M&S did this in order to give them the skills and confidence needed to find a job and, more specifically, took  action to:
  • support youth employment at M&S through the Make Your Mark and Marks & Start programmes
  •  promote youth employment outside M&S
  • create vocational training and work experience opportunities for young people through Movement to Work

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2015 Plan A Report M&S identified a range of material issues, such as climate and GHG emissions, energy efficiency, employee diversity, environmentally efficient food packaging, water consumption, promoting healthy food. Among these, tackling youth unemployment stands out as a key material issue for M&S.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups M&S engages with:

M&S engaged both internal and external stakeholders to identify their interests and concerns and define M&S’s most important impacts upon them and the environment.

Stakeholder Group          Method of engagement (April 2014 to March 2015)
Customers

 

·         Monitoring sales of products

·         Participation in Plan A activities and campaigns

·         Contacts to M&S’s Retail Customer Services

·         Feedback through M&S’s Plan A email

·         Research and surveys

·         Social media

Employees ·         Plan A Champions

·         Business Involvement Groups

·         Feedback through M&S’s Plan A email

·         Annual Your Say survey

·         Participation in Plan A activities and campaigns

Shareholders ·         Annual General Meeting

·         Meetings with institutional investors

·         Survey of institutional investors

·         Ethical investment surveys

Suppliers

 

 

·         Supplier conferences

·         Tendering processes

·         Supplier Exchange website and network

·         Visits and meetings

·         Agricultural shows

Government and regulators

 

 

·         Meetings

·         Dialogues with trade associations

·         Responses to consultations

·         Plan A stakeholder conference

Non-governmental organisations (for example WWF, Oxfam, RSPCA, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the UK Green Building Council) ·         Visits and meetings

·         Participation in benchmarking and surveys

·         Joint projects

·         Plan A stakeholder conference

What actions were taken by M&S to help young people into work by opening up vocational training and work placement opportunities?

In its 2015 Plan A Report M&S reports that it took the following actions for helping young people into work by opening up vocational training and work placement opportunities:

  • Supporting youth employment at M&S through the Make Your Mark and Marks & Start programmes
  • 2015: M&S offered Make Your Mark work placements to 1,479 people aged 25 or under and a further 564 through Marks & Start, bringing the total number of people participating in the programmes to over 3,800 in two years, with 62% going on to find permanent work. The plan is to expand the programmes to six countries, including Greece and France, by 2020.
  • Promoting youth employment outside M&S
  • Since 2014 M&S has worked with 94 of its suppliers (the vast majority, 83 of them, from M&S’s Food supply chain) to tackle youth unemployment, providing training and work placement opportunities for young people. More than 1,700 young people, aged 25 or under, were offered work placements with M&S’s Food suppliers and 90% of those who completed them found work.
  • Through M&S’s Plan A Innovation Fund – providing finance for four regional hubs run by The Employment Academy – smaller companies were enabled to set up work placement schemes and recruit successful participants.
  • Creating vocational training and work experience opportunities for young people through Movement to Work
  • 2013: M&S helped found Movement to Work, joined, so far, by almost 200 employers, including Asda, Barclays, BT, HSBC, Manpower, Tesco and Unilever. Since Movement to Work was launched, almost 15,000 vocational training and work experience opportunities were created for young people, with an into work rate of 50%.

Which GRI indicators/Standards have been addressed?

The GRI indicator addressed in this case is: G4-EC8: Significant indirect economic impacts, including the extent of impacts and the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 203-2 Significant indirect economic impacts

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by M&S, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) http://www.fbrh.co.uk/en/global-reporting-initiative-gri-g4-guidelines-download-page

3) https://g4.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

4) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

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