Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Campaigner and Staff Welfare Pioneer

Flora Solomon was born Flora Benenson in Pinsk, Imperial Russia, in 1895.

Flora Solomon OBE, founder of M&S staff welfare programme
Flora Solomon OBE

Flora was the first woman employed to improve working conditions at Marks & Spencer. She had many well known friends including Simon Marks. At a dinner party in 1932, Flora challenged Simon, Chairman of M&S and son of the founder Michael Marks, over employee welfare standards. He responded by giving her the task of creating the Staff Welfare department. In 1934 she also set up the Training Department to help employees learn new skills and develop team spirit.

Flora Solomon OBE
Flora Solomon OBE

She said:  'A store is not a collection of private individuals, but a team of people working for a common object…The well-being of an individual cannot exist in a vacuum'.

In the 1930s, before the Second World War, Flora helped find homes in Britain for Jewish refugee children who had to flee from Europe. During the War she helped to set up the British Restaurants, which worked to feed people on the Home Front, and won an OBE for her work. She was also the mother of Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International, so Flora's own social conscience influenced those both close to and far away from her.

Download Flora Solomon's timeline PDF.


British Restaurant - communal cafés set up during the Second World War

Cultural identity - special and unique features of a nation

Employee - worker or staff member

Welfare - wellbeing, happiness, good fortune

Refugee - person who leaves their country because they have been badly treated

Policies - plans or rules

Campaigning - working really hard to achieve something important