February is LGBT History Month. We’re celebrating with a series of blogs from LGBT+ colleagues across the Co-op and beyond. The first is by Amelia Cargo, the chair of the Co-op’s LGBT+ network.
Many people come to work for the Co-op because we do things differently and I’m certainly no different. When I was looking for a new job about four years ago, I was drawn to the Co-op’s commitment to local communities and its reputation as one of the most LGBT-friendly employers in the country. I wanted to work for a business that was positive about difference and actively supported LGBT+ communities; Co-op ticked those boxes for me.
I’ve been involved with our LGBT+ network, Respect, pretty much since I started and it’s been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. The network is run by a team of about 15 colleague volunteers, all of whom are passionate about supporting colleagues and educating the business on the importance of LGBT+ equality. If that’s not Being Co-op in action, I’m not sure what is!
On the up
One of our highlights is being named the 31st most LGBT-inclusive employer in this Stonewall’s 2017 Workplace Equality Index, a massive jump of 41 places on our previous ranking. The process is pretty rigorous – to be placed in the top 100, businesses have to provide evidence of LGBT+ inclusion in a wide range of areas – from training and senior sponsorship, to colleague networks and community engagement.
I’m really proud of our ranking. Yes, we’ve done better in the past, but I think it’s important to put the achievement into context of what the business has been through. We’re confident that we can do even better next year and are working closely with the diversity team, our businesses and Stonewall to make it happen. We’ll keep you updated on our progress.
We need you
I believe that creating a workplace that is diverse, inclusive and positive about difference is up to all of us, not just colleague networks and the diversity team. One of our big aims for 2017 is to make Respect more regional and we’re looking for colleagues across the country to help spread the word and get involved in LGBT events like Pride. If you’d like to get involved, or if you want to find out more, email us at RespectLGBT@coop.co.uk.
Chair of Co-op LGBT+ network