November 18, 2018

When Margaret and Michelle met

873 words approx. 4 minutes to read

Michelle, Co-op Member Pioneer, and Margaret, Co-op Member Nominated Director, recently discussed the impact Member Pioneers have in our local communities and what excites them about our Co-op and its future.

They recorded their discussion which you can hear by clicking the play button below

Here is a little insight into their conversation:

Member Pioneers

Michelle: As Member Pioneers, we look to be catalysts within the community. We like to get different groups talking to each other because it’s all about bringing the community together to help everyone succeed.

Margaret: Does every region have Member Pioneers?

Michelle: Not at the moment. We are still recruiting for pioneers across the country, so if people are interested have a look and apply.

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Margaret: If people have a particular contribution they can make to their community could that be their focus as a Member Pioneer? For example if I had been in the Guides and I wanted to work with young people, could that could be my focus?

Michelle: Yeah, it could be. The whole aim of the role is to engage the community. For example in my community, we recently set up a uniform swap shop which has been a great success. It’s just about getting the community working together.

Margaret: You recently won an award for your community work, how did that come about?

Michelle: I was very honoured to win the Co-op Magic Award which was voted for by one of our members. They put me forward because I started a fundraiser for a mobility scooter for one of our regular shoppers so that he could keep his independence. Little things like this,that colleagues do across the businesses every day, they are little bits of Co-op Magic.

Member Nominated Directors

Michelle: You were re-elected as Co-op Member Nominated Director, so within your role, what is it that you do?

Margaret: It’s such an accolade to be voted onto the board, I was really thrilled. To be reelected, which meant that members had faith that I was bringing something of value, was just a tremendous joy. I work hard to make sure that when I go to Council I listen to what members concerns are and I have to be held accountable by the members of the Council. They ask some quite hard-hitting but fantastic questions which keep us on our toes. They are often about the economic and ethical direction and our principles and policy, which is great because it means that the different strands are being honed all the time. It isn’t just a question of how well we’re doing financially.

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Michelle: Are you able to feedback and make changes based on members’ suggestions?

Margaret: Very much indeed. The member’s voice is always there to make us hone our thinking. The Co-op Compass, which is something members created through the Council, requires us to think about whether the member’s voice is being heard, whether the members feel they are being properly represented, whether we are driving the business in the right direction commercially, whether we are leading ethically and leading sustainably. So when it comes to the boardroom we ask “How is that going to land with members?” “Let’s think about the elements of the compass” and whether the members, if they were here, would be happy with that decision. So it’s like having the whole of the membership around the table through the Member Nominated Directors.

Co-op Compass

A better way of doing business

Michelle: Our members have raised millions of pounds for local communities. How important is it for the Co-op to continue this support?

Margaret: We feel very strongly that the Co-op, differently from other businesses, isn’t just going to do nice things when the going is good. We exist to do nice things. Other companies will be more ethically focused, will focus on organic food, will focus on Fairtrade when the going is good. We don’t divorce the doing good with the commercial impetus. It’s a better way of doing business.
People should be their full self at work

Michelle: Where do you see women in the business? The senior board is quite mixed at the moment so it would be great to see this right across our Co-op. Is this something you might personally get involved with?

Margaret: This is something I’m very keen on promoting, diversity not just at a high level but right the way through our business. We try to make sure that we get women into the high roles because when there are more women in management, senior management and on boards, the ethos and culture will gradually change and people will look and see people like themselves.

We should see people with different ethnic backgrounds and different abilities moving up into more senior roles as well. So I’m very excited that we’ve just launched our black, minority and ethnic diversity group at the Co-op. I really want to ensure we make people feel like they can be their full self at work.

To hear Margaret and Michelle talk more about ethics, diversity, our work tackling plastic and how we can spread Co-op news further listen to their conversation above.

Margaret Casely-Hayford and Michelle Benton
Co-op Member Nominated Director and Co-op Member Pioneer

Read more on Member Pioneers and our Members’ Council;


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. Very good, just one point. When looking at the Co-op difference, Margaret said “other companies”, it is important to stress the very real difference between the ‘ Co-operative Society model’ and the ‘Company model’ The Co-operative group is a Co-op SOCIETY, not a company. A Co-op Society exists to provide goods and services for its members, in a democratic and ethical way. Companies exists to maximise profits for their owners, by any means possible. Any ethical/charitable work is a part of their marketing efforts. Co-op Societies have always been democratically owned and ethical. Companies have just recently started to pay lip service to ethics, as means to profit maximisation.


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