The Co-operative Group is working to create a fairer and more equal society, heard members at the Values and Principles Conference at Co-operatives United.
Jenny Barnes, from the Membership Diversity Working Group, gave an update on the progress the MDWG has made over the last year and their targets for the future.
She said that last year members agreed upon a strategy that would create a “fair, equal society, representative of the communities we serve” focusing on the key areas of: gender, BAMER (black, Asian, minority, ethnic and refugee), LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), disability and carers.
The MDWG action plan lays out the vision and focus for the Co-operative Group’s commitment to deliver greater diversity within their membership between 2012 and 2015.
Ms Barnes explained a key achievement this year was the agreement of the board’s diversity policy; run by the board diversity strategy group (BDSG). She said: “The policy aims to unsure the board sets an example on all aspects of diversity and champions diversity in the organisation.”
The Co-op Group has a membership of 70 per cent female, and their targets for boards are: area committees to include a minimum of 33 per cent of women by 2014 with a long term target of 50 per cent by 2016.
Regional boards: 33 per cent by 2015, and a national target of fifty per cent by 2017. Group boards: 32 per cent by 2016, and 40 per cent 2018.
“We’re working to address the underrepresentation by positively promoting elections to all our members;” she continued.
Ms Barnes also read out data on the Co-op Group elections. In the 2012 committee election results: candidates were 64 per cent male, 36 per cent female, with successful candidates running at 58.3 per cent male and 41.7 per cent female, which means females candidates were more likely to get elected.
With BAMER candidates there were 26 candidates making up 6.8 percent, and seven of the candidates were successful. BAMER candidates were less likely to be successful than white candidates.
Ms Barnes said: “I think it’s important that we do measure the issues, we know that 10 percent population is a BAMER community and if we’re only attracting 2.6 percent in the elections, we should consider that a personal disgrace. We know when it went to an AGM, that quotas weren’t considered the way forward, so we need to find a smarter way forward.”
“We will use this information to inform and drive forward our strategy;” she added.
Ms Barnes also spoke about the support the Co-op Group has given to LGBT events such as Pride Weekend in Manchester.