Expert views: What should co-ops be doing to be different from private companies?

Michelle Smith, Community Lead, The Co-operative Group:  “The thing that makes us different is responding to local members’ expectations. Other retailers may think about where they can generate recognition...

Michelle SmithMichelle Smith, Community Lead, The Co-operative Group

“The thing that makes us different is responding to local members’ expectations. Other retailers may think about where they can generate recognition and tie that in closely to make profit –our focus is to run our business the best we can to help members. The reason we exist is as a better way of doing business in communities and it goes back to our business purpose.”

malcolm brownMalcolm Brown, Head of Corporate Communications, Scotmid

“So many retailers now work with communities and charities… Our community investment isn’t about how it makes our business looks, it’s about how can we genuinely benefit the communities that we serve. We work and think as a co-operative; the Rochdale Pioneers set out to make people’s daily lives better and we still follow that through.”

Jessica Hughes

Jessica Hughes, Community Investment Manager, The Southern Co-operative

“Is this not more about engaging members generally? Using the power of our membership model, we can stand out from others, and our members and colleagues can engage more with our community investment activities compared to private companies. They can contribute both to the decision making and activities themselves, helping to drive social change.”

Andy_Melia (1)Andy Melia, Head of Community Investment, Business in the Community

“The sharing of economic and social value is at the heart of everything a co-operative does and that in itself sets it apart. The real challenge is to step back and think creatively about what this actually means and looks like in your local community, and be able to translate that into specific programmes and activities that have demonstrable impact.”

Mike-Pickering-RGB-600x360Mike Pickering, Community & Sustainability Manage, The Midcounties Co-operative

Member involvement is key in differentiating ourselves from private companies. We believe that in order to fully understand what social issues matter to our communities we need to ensure members can share their knowledge and thoughts about what really matters to them and their community. Their involvement is key to developing long term local community partnerships and helping to create positive legacies.”

rsz_minnie_moll_for_webMinnie Moll, Joint Chief Executive, East of England Co-operative:

“I think some organisations still have a disconnect, where community investment is something that is done at ‘head office’ or in the CSR team and their colleagues on the front line don’t feel connected to it. As a co-op we really do have working for the benefit of the communities in our DNA. I have never once heard the phrase CSR used in our business. We just don’t think in those terms. It’s not a thing that exists in a silo but rather throughout the entire organisation.”

In this article

Join the Conversation