External Advisory Board
In 2011 we set up an external Sustainable Retail Advisory Board, which is jointly chaired by our CEO Marc Bolland and Founder Director of Forum for the Future, Jonathon Porritt. The Board meets every six months and includes individuals with a wide range of skills and experience on sustainability.
What our Advisory Board has told us
With members drawn from diverse backgrounds, our Advisory Board provides a broad range of opinions.
However, there is strong agreement that Plan A activities must be central to the M&S brand and used to grow business revenues and market shares, although the future need for efficiency and resilience must also be considered carefully. Board members believe that engaging customers will be very important and that to do this we will need to explain Plan A in accessible, everyday language and address issues that matter to people locally. The use of web and social media will be very important in our efforts to connect with actual and virtual communities.
We have discussed the concept of leadership in depth, concluding that while it is gratifying to win awards and top league tables (see the Independent Recognition page for more details), true leadership comes through collaboration with other companies and stakeholders. The Advisory Board has encouraged us to be transparent about our collaborations and the resulting impacts. The Board has advised us to update Plan A in ways that reflect our current business priorities, including the development of our multi-channel and international businesses in key territories such as China and India.
It suggests that we rebalance Plan A to address pressing social concerns centred on workplace skills, education, employment and health – in our own business as well as our supply chains. The Board also recommends that the links between sustainable livelihoods and sustainable management of the environment need to be developed.
We recognise the need to demonstrate more effectively how addressing social and environmental issues can contribute to overall business success. We’ve worked with Business in the Community and the consultancy Accenture on research to redefine ‘Responsible business’.
We’re also participating in the International Integrated Reporting Committee’s (IIRC) integrated reporting pilot and contributing to the development of UK legislation in this area. In the UK, it is currently proposed that mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and gender diversity will come into effect for 2014 reports.
This 2013 Plan A Report and our 2013 Annual Report include small steps towards more integrated reporting, including the identification of three sustainability key performance measurements on greenhouse gas emissions (our operations), products with Plan A qualities (our products) and percentage Employee Engagement score (our people).