M&S distributing 'pronoun badges' for staff to tell customers their gender identity

8 November 2021, 11:00 | Updated: 10 November 2021, 15:02

New badges feature staff pronouns
New badges feature staff pronouns. Picture: Alamy/David Parke

By Daisy Stephens

Marks & Spencer is giving staff the opportunity to wear badges with their pronouns on, so that customers know how to correctly address them.

The badges feature the M&S logo, a first name for the employee, and then their pronouns.

The pronouns include "He/Him/His", "She/Her/Hers" and "They/Them/Their".

The badges - which are optional - were introduced a few months ago.

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The move has been welcomed by many, with David Parke - a Food PR Manager at the company - saying they had already prompted conversations about gender identity and, in particular, the experiences of non-binary people.

Sharing a post on LinkedIn on International Pronouns Day - October 19 - Mr Parke wrote: "I'm so grateful that Marks and Spencer actively encourages us to share our pronouns at work, whether on our name badges or in our email signatures.

"We introduced these new badges a few months ago (a brilliant idea from a colleague that was then implemented by [Inclusion & Diversity Director] Cleo Thompson and our LGBTQ+ Network) and they've already helped start some very necessary conversations around gender identity and non-binary experiences!"

Commenters on LinkedIn praised the move, with one writing: "It's a great initiative to understand the importance of gender identity."

Another LinkedIn user wrote: "That's great to see such an initiative."

Sasha Misra, associate director of communications and campaigns at LGBT rights charity Stonewall, told the Sun that pronoun badges were a "simple yet impactful way to make sure LGBTQ+ identities are respected, for employees and customers alike".

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M&S is not the only supermarket to offer pronoun badges to its staff.

Tesco has a similar initiative, having introduced the badges as part of the uniform following a suggestion from a colleague last year.

"For people from the LGBTQ+ community the use of the correct pronoun can make them feel welcomed by all," reads the Tesco website.

"By listening to our colleagues and utilising their ideas the colleague networks have helped to ensure the correct change has been implemented."

Asda also introduced similar badges last year, saying it would help staff avoid the "distress" of misgendering colleagues.

Asda's badges can be "male", "female" or "non-binary", with a fourth option of "ask me my pronouns".