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I joined the Co-op in 2007 as a Warehouse Team Manager, a very different role to my current position as an Inclusion Advisor. During this time, Co-op had just acquired Somerfield, and I was very happy to move to a business with great ethics and a history of fairness.
I’d always had an interest in HR and began studying for my CIPD to kick start my new career path. During this time, I applied for a new role within Co-op and successfully joined the Organisational Effectiveness Team in 2017. At the end of that year, my skills were matched to new Inclusion Advisor role, which was an area I was already passionate about.
Spreading the inclusion message
It’s fast-paced role and time really does fly by. Our team is focused primarily on the Diversity and Inclusion business strategy for the year. This could be anything from arranging for our CEO, Steve Murrells, to do a video link for an event to ordering pin badges to support our colleague networks.
The best part of my role is that I get to meet lots of people all the time. We have established a network of Inclusion Pioneers, who are colleagues from across the UK and all corners of our business. Inclusion Pioneers help us to support the diversity and inclusion strategy and play an active part in getting our message out there. It’s great to build relationships with other colleagues who care about the same things and want to spread the inclusion message.
Pride is one of my favourite times of year and this summer has been an incredible couple of months, packed with #PrideInCoop celebrations. Over the summer, Co-op joined Pride events up and down the UK, including Brighton, London, Bristol, Newcastle, Glasgow, Cardiff and Manchester, bringing colleagues together to celebrate all things Pride!
This is the second year I’ve been involved in organising our Manchester Pride parade entry. There’s so much involved in making the day a success, from arranging licence applications to rallying round volunteers to proudly march with us. All the hard work paid off and I’m so pleased that this year’s pride has been so successful.
Being part of the parade with my daughter was particularly special. We were both filled with emotion seeing how many people lined the streets of Manchester to support the LGBT+ community. I felt so much love and pride for all of my colleagues, friends and the millions of people who deserve to be proud of who they are.
Pride is always important to us, but this year was particularly important as it’s the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. In June 1969, after years of oppression and mistreatment, LGBT+ people stood up against discrimination and so began the LGBT+ rights movement.
I’m proud to work for a business that supports LGBT+ causes 365 days a year. Co-op supports many pride parades across the UK, however, they stand for much more than that. They were the only retailer to speak in Parliament in support of the Equal Marriage Bill and invest in projects that make a difference, supporting LGBT+ causes through the community fund.
We still have a long way to go for equality. As a proud straight ally to the LGBT+ community, I want to reinforce the importance of inclusion, and remind everyone that acceptance and spreading kindness helps build a better and more equal world for everyone.