In a message to staff, Rowe said the Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have spurred M&S to undertake a “much overdue” review of its approach to diversity and inclusion.
He said: “As a privileged white man, and as the CEO of a business of 78,000 colleagues—with different backgrounds, beliefs and ambitions—I’ve been reflecting a lot on what has happened, and what we need to do at M&S.
“Last week we publicly and rightly acknowledged that respecting the silence of Blackout Tuesday was not good enough and that we have work to do to truly understand and tackle racism and the stymying impact it has on the life chances of black people. So—as an employer, a retailer, and a brand—we need to take urgent action. To be truly meaningful we must do this as part of a much overdue review of our approach to diversity and inclusion so that we have a clear strategy that all of us understand and can get behind.”
The business will look at how and where it recruits staff, the training it offers, the data it tracks and the systems it has in place.
Rowe added that he will be putting his “personal weight behind” making progress on addressing racism as part of the “ambitious diversity and inclusion action plan”.
M&S aims to have 50% female and 15% BAME people in senior management roles by 2022, it currently has 41% and 8% respectively.