M&S is proud to host Frazzled Cafe meetings, and Cirrus is proud to help M&S build the leadership skills to support this though the ‘Fit to Lead the Future’ development programme.
Marks & Spencer has joined forces with comedian and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax to support the Frazzled Cafe charity. Held at M&S in-store cafés, Frazzled Cafe meetings provide a supportive environment with trained volunteer facilitators on hand.
M&S Plan A
Support for the Frazzled Cafe charity is very much in line with the M&S Plan A ethical and environmental programme, which engages M&S employees, suppliers, and customers with its aim to become the world’s most sustainable retailer: sourcing responsibly, reducing waste and helping communities.
This initiative was promoted at the launch of Plan A 2025, building on the success of the first ten years of the Plan A programme to support 1,000 communities and help 10 million people through community and environmental commitments.
Support from Cirrus
M&S is proud to host Frazzled Cafe meetings, and Cirrus is proud to have helped M&S to build the leadership skills to support it though the ‘Fit to Lead the Future’ development programme. This programme took senior leaders out of the workplace and into very different organisations, to help create new ways of working and introduce innovative new ideas back into the business.
When creating the programme, Cirrus worked closely with both senior leaders in Plan A and the broader leadership population to explore what really mattered to them and the business. Supporting local communities and helping to promote customer and employee wellbeing emerged as key priorities.
Developing leadership understanding
The ‘Fit to Lead the Future’ programme was designed to help M&S leaders develop a greater understanding of wellbeing and mental health issues in a variety of ways. The principles of Plan A were embedded in the programme as M&S partnered with charity partners and community groups to provide mutually beneficial learning opportunities. Many of these opportunities were ‘disruptive’ – they challenged leaders to address uncomfortable situations, which encouraged new ways of thinking.
Some leaders visited London’s Dragon Café, a drop-in centre offering a range of creative and well-being activities. Some spent time with the mental health charity Mind. Others visited employment charity Toucan, which aims to ensure that people who have had mental health problems can find a rewarding path back into the workplace. This helped M&S discover more about what support a good employer should offer, and to meet senior leaders from other major organisations who have overcome mental health issues to lead fulfilling working lives.
As a result of these activities, M&S leaders introduced more support for both employees and customers with mental health issues, with managers across the business subsequently pledging to take more responsibility for providing this support. Support for the Frazzled Cafe charity grew out of this.
Commenting on the success of ‘Fit to Lead the Future’, Plan A director Mike Barry said that, “There is a visible and tangible shift in leadership behaviour since the programme. It was amazing to see what we can achieve in a short space of time when we strip away the hierarchies, collaborate, and accelerate decision making.”
CEO Steve Rowe added: “Plan A 2025 is now our plan for a future in which a truly sustainable M&S can, in partnership with our customers and stakeholders, have a positive impact in all we do. We’re launching Plan A 2025 commitments to transform communities. We want to help people to live happier and healthier lives.”
All of us at Cirrus feel privileged to partner with M&S. It is tremendously rewarding for us to work with a client who is so committed to bringing values to life, and it fits with our own ethos of ‘Better Leaders, Better Business, Better Lives’.