This year has opened our eyes to the gross inequalities that still exist all around us. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the global protests it sparked, rightly told us that tackling race discrimination must be an everyday priority for all of us.  

We know that when it comes to race, the issues we’re facing are systemic, deeply entrenched, and knotty. It may seem complicated, but at the end of the day this is about everyone having a fair and equal chance to fulfil their potential. 

At the Co-op, we believe that the act of not being racist, is not enough. I’m crystal clear that we must be Anti-Racist.  

Being Anti-Racist, means that we’ll work to eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racial inequalities that currently exist within our Co-op. And we’ll do all we can to influence the wider world too. We won’t stand by when we see racism happening. We’ll speak out and we’ll act against it.  

I know we’re far from where we want to be right now, but honest recognition of this is an important first step.  

Our founders – the Rochdale Pioneers – were world changers. And since then the Co-op has continued to be bold in taking a stand. Co-operators in Britain worked to end slavery during the American Civil War in the 1860s, and our own Co-op supported the South African apartheid boycott in the 1980s. But the responsibility is now on us, to wake up each day and make new, proactive and tangible choices for the better.  

At the Co-op we’ve set ourselves the vision of ‘co-operating for a fairer world’. To be frank, we will not achieve our vision without delivering on these commitments. These aren’t on the side, or nice to have. Our very purpose of existence will fly or fail based on our ability to deliver these commitments.  

I’ve no doubt that future generations will judge us on how well we respond to this challenge. We’ve got a long way to go. But I have the talent, energy and determination of my colleagues alongside me and I’m sure the support of our millions of Co-op members. 

Steve Murrells

Co-op CEO  

Our new commitments 


Throughout our 175-year history, we’ve campaigned for social change on the issues that matter to 

our members – from women’s suffrage and food standards to modern slavery and loneliness. Right now, it’s time to use our voice on issues of racial equality. 

So, we’ll 

  • Work with our Co-op Academies Trust to develop a new curriculum on anti-racism so that the next generation knows what it means to be anti-racist. We’ll then lobby the government to roll this out as part of the national school curriculum across the UK. 
  • We’ll publish annually our ethnicity pay gap. As we know transparency drives action, so we will call on the government to make this mandatory for all businesses. 


Our business is owned by our millions of Co-op members across the UK, so we want our leaders and managers to reflect the diversity of the nation and the local communities we serve.  

So, we’ll  

  • Double the representation of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic leaders and managers across the business by the end of 2022, moving from 3% to 6%, and then to 10% by 2025. To make sure we achieve this, we’ll have diverse shortlists for all leadership roles – no exceptions, and we’ll partner with organisations that will help us to reach talent from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds. 
  • Maximise the use of our apprenticeship levy and seek partnerships and opportunities which focus on benefitting Black, Asian and ethnic minority candidates. 
  • Collect and monitor data which enables us to track progress and reduce inequalities within our internal systems and processes when it comes to promotion and opportunities. 
  • Require all our leaders to have objectives that ensure they are playing their part in delivering to our commitments to racial equality from 2021. 


Supporting and strengthening local communities is at the heart of who we are and we’ve been improving our diversity and inclusion in recent years. Now we’re going much further.  

So, we’ll 

  • Use our Community Wellbeing Index, ethnicity data, external evidence and partner insight to understand issues of race inequality in the communities we support and where we need to focus our activity. 
  • Increase the number of local causes whose projects include Black, Asian, and ethnic minority beneficiaries to 25% through the Local Community Fund. 
  • Increase the number of ethnic minority led community organisations that our charity the Co-op Foundation will support. 
  • Provide targeted vocational and enrichment opportunities for Black, Asian and ethnic minority students at our Co-op Academy schools, building on their individual aspirations and ambitions. 
  • Work with the Co-op Academies Trust to increase the representation of senior leaders in the Trust. 
  • Target racial inequality as part of a broader focus on youth inequality through national programmes and the partnerships we select. 

Products and services 

Our products, services and customer proposition must reflect the diversity of our communities. 

That means making sure that what we sell meets the needs of our ethnic minority communities and our Co-op brand is seen as inclusive and welcoming. 

So, we’ll 

  • Create more diverse consumer and member panels to get closer to what our customers and members need from our businesses. 
  • Develop specific products for ethnic minority groups and equip our colleagues with training in order to service our newly-attracted customers well e.g. our soon-to-be launched African and Caribbean funeral service. 
  • Ensure stronger representation of Black, Asian and ethnic minority groups across all our marketing platforms. 
  • Ensure that we celebrate with communities and that our products meet the needs of our customers as they celebrate key cultural events. 
  • Create more inclusive ways to access product and service information. 
  • Change our procurement process so that we partner and invest more with suppliers that have a strong focus on inclusion and closing the inequality gap in their own businesses. 
  • Encourage ethnic diversity as a focus for the businesses we trade with and offer practical support and encouragement where we can to those that need to progress. 


As a co-operative, we exist to meet the needs of our members and respond to their concerns. So it’s vital that we listen to them on this issue so we can become a truly inclusive and welcoming organisation.  

So, we’ll 

  • Ask our members from Black and Asian and ethnic minority communities to tell us how they view us and what we need to change to make us more welcoming and inclusive. 
  • Once we really understand these views, we’ll work to address the issues being raised. 

Join the conversation! 17 Comments

  1. Sounds to me like coop are just causing more division.


  2. Blimey! When I signed up for the new membership I was surprised the CO-OP has gone all woke. I don’t need an inaccurate lecture on history nor for a corporate entity to decide ‘who matters’! As far as I’m concerned we are all equal but it now seems to me that the only people who no longer matter anywhere are the poor, white, working class people! I usually just go to get provisions – I won’t be doing that anymore. I thought it was a shop not a political movement. I will be unsubscribing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The co op should not be writing a new curriculum expecting the government to accept it. It is too important to be decided by one group of people within Britain. Most co op members will not be aware of what you’re doing, will be unaware of any detail that’s going to be included and probably not agree with the changes. You should not be using the power of the large number of your members (most of which I suspect basically come to you for basic shopping ), to do this.


  4. I agree with everything that you say, but please do not use ‘ ‘ as in we’ll. Many of colleagues with limited English only know whole words. So please use ‘we will’ for example instead, then we will all be able to understand.


  5. Also, we don’t recommend that you include your personal information on a public post. Regards. ^Karen


  6. Hi. Thank you for getting touch.
    The slaughter of animals is an extremely emotive topic and we respect your concern regarding this matter.
    I would like to reiterate our previous responses, which we do think answers the issue you have raised. All of our animals are stunned before slaughter and some, predominately lamb, will receive a blessing after being stunned, prior to being slaughtered to ensure that all of the meat can be utilised by our suppliers, beyond their sourcing requirements for the Co-op. Many UK supermarkets do the same.
    If I can help you anymore then please let me know. Regards. ^Karen


  7. Hi James, just to let you know that none of our Co-op meat or poultry is halal or kosher certified. We do sell some non-Co-op branded Halal certified meat in areas where there is sufficient demand which is clearly labelled and all stunned prior to slaughter. Thanks ^Hannah


  8. Equality and inclusion has always been at the heart of what we do. We just upped it a gear. Take care. ^Karen


  9. Jumped on the woke bandwagon, it was only a matter of time.


  10. I’d prefer it if you would employ people on the basis of their suitability and ability not on the colour of their skin. My former son-in-law was a mining engineer in South Africa and after the election left to work in another country, because posts with responsibility for managing risks underground were being awarded on the basis of affirmative action (as positive discrimination in favour of nationals was called) not on the basis of their skills in dealing with hazardous issues.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I applaud what you are doing here. but equality should be about all colours and creeds there is disadvantaged white people out there too who need help and Jobs everybody should have the same opportunities. and not just aimed at specific ethnic groups. we are all in it togather and all need chances to get on in life especially the young of every nationality and colour in the UK..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally agree Janet.
      I believe the Co-op are in danger of becoming racist with their statement and mantra. ALL peoples’ and communities matter, all peoples’ have a right to have a fair and just life. We all have a moral obligation to eliminate racism of all colour and creeds and to bring inclusion into the workplace, community and further afield is what should be addressed.
      Let’s also not forget that ageism and sexism is very much alive and kicking in leadership roles.

      Liked by 1 person


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Co-op Leaders' Blogs, Steve's Blog, Uncategorized