Marks & Spencer adds human rights to its sustainability report Article icon


Marks & Spencer has released its Human Rights Update, which for the first time is incorporated it into its sustainability report Plan A.

The move to publish both its ethical and environmental practices together comes from the retailer’s belief that the two issues ‘must be tackled together to deliver systemic and transformative change’.

It follows a similar decision by Co-op Group to release its joint annual review of ethics and sustainability, publishing its performance on fair tax, the environment and responsible sourcing alongside its annual report.

Marks & Spencer’s human rights work has three pillars - taking the lead on modern slavery, tackling in-work poverty and fostering an inclusive economy. These all fall under the umbrella of ‘upholding ‘decent work’’.

It has launched initiatives including a financial literacy microsite for employees, a Diversity and Inclusion festival and has expanded its gender programme with the British High Commission in India, addressing sexual harassment. 

Marks & Spencer also published its modern slavery statement alongside its human rights report, highlighting its continued focus on raising awareness, strengthening due diligence and responsible recruitment ensuring employers pay the cost of employment.

However, the company did acknowledge that more work needs to be done and that feedback included in the report, from its Human Rights Stakeholder Advisory Group, urged it to go further and be clearer on impact targets. 

In his introduction to the Plan A report, titled Transformation Underway, chief executive Steve Rowe said: ‘In this turbulent and volatile world, Plan A 2025, our business commitment to sustainability and Human Rights provides the deep social purpose we need to ‘anchor’ the M&S brand for customers and colleagues alike, giving practical expression to the enduring values that underpin everything this company does.’