WEST MIDLANDS Co-op's commitment to equal opportunities and its support for ethnic minority communities has been recognised with a top award.
The society received the 2004 Corporate Responsibility Award from the Wolverhampton-based Windrush Employment and Training Consortium at a high-profile dinner attended by 400 guests, including representatives of the Jamaican and Nigerian High Commissions and MPs.
The annual awards recognise individuals and organisations who have improved the opportunities, employment and business prospects of ethnic minorities, especially among the African Caribbean community.
Stephen Brooks, Projects Director for Windrush, said: "West Midlands Co-op has recognised the importance of doing business in the African Caribbean community for many years and has strong consumer and business level links with local companies. It is one of the most respected names within the ethnic community.
"It has long been pro-active in treating people equally and giving people equal access to opportunities."
The society sponsored the West Midlands Social Enterprise Fair in Wolverhampton, where many of the exhibitors were from ethnic minority community organisations. West Midlands Co-op has also given financial backing to the Black Country Reinvestment Society which provides low-cost loans to social enterprises.
West Midlands Co-op director Helen King accepted the award at the Holiday Inn, Dunstall Park, where civic dignatories joined business and community leaders for the celebrations.
Steve Ridler, General Manager Commercial Services at West Midlands Co-op, told the News: "We are delighted to receive this award, which is a clear endorsement of our diversity strategy where we are seeking to engage all areas of the community we serve.
"The award recognises our long term commitment. It was not just for one particular event, it was recognition of the consistent effort we put into our engagement with the community, particularly the African Caribbean community."