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I’ve been with Co-op for nearly 10 years now – it's a unique business that was founded in Rochdale 176 years ago. The idea of the early co-operative movement was to provide its members with access to good quality, affordable products as well as a share of any profits made from selling them. This was at a time when there was a wider gap in society than there is today.  

Co-op was built on principles of equality and fairness; these values are still an important part of our culture, and one of the reasons I’m proud to work here.  

Over the past 3 years we’ve been asking ourselves some difficult questions – do colleagues from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have access to the same level of opportunity as their white counterparts? Do our teams across the UK really reflect the diversity of the communities they serve? And if the answer to either of those questions is ’no’ – are we living up to the standards of equality and fairness set by our founders? 

Since starting this period of reflection, we’ve audited many of our people processes and made some positive changes to help drive diversity in our business. But recent events have made it clear to us that change needs to happen more quickly. It’s vital that we act now and achieve our vision of co-operating for a fairer world.  

On 17 September, we published our commitments to racial equality and inclusion. These commitments will make lasting changes that impact our customers, colleagues, members, and communities. You can find out more here. 

As part of our commitment to colleagues, we’ve pledged to work with partner organisations that will help us to improve the representation of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic people in our leadership teams. By partnering with Black Young Professionals (BYP) we believe we can introduce more young Black leaders to Co-op, and by doing so, create a pipeline of talented people who will eventually help us shape the future of Co-op. 

We’ve already started working together with BYP in a few different ways: 

  • The BYP team is currently sourcing candidates for leadership roles in our retail business, in areas of the UK where we know we need to improve black representation.

  • We’re advertising Co-op jobs on the BYP job board so we can attract more Black candidates into our specialist support teams.

  • BYP is advising Rise, our BAME colleague network, on the work they’re doing to support Black colleagues. 

We’re looking forward to continuing the partnership and expect the BYP team to hold us to account as we aim to improve our processes and create a level playing field for our Black colleagues and candidates applying for Co-op jobs. 

We know we’ve got a long way to go, but our partnership with BYP represents an important step on the journey to creating a more inclusive Co-op. 

Matt Eyre, 

Candidate Marketing Manager