Co-operatives stand strong in corporate responsibility index

Four retail co-operatives have been recognised in Business in the Community’s annual Corporate Responsibility Index (CR Index). Created in 2002, the index provides an insight into how businesses...

Four retail co-operatives have been recognised in Business in the Community’s annual Corporate Responsibility Index (CR Index).

Created in 2002, the index provides an insight into how businesses are driving responsible business practice, and creates a voluntary benchmark of corporate responsibility.

One of the top scorers in this year’s index, Midcounties Co-operative, received a 4 star rating, reflecting the society’s commitment to “making a difference and giving back to the local community, members and colleagues,” according to Pete Westall, group general manager for Co-operative Social Responsibility.

“The CR Index is nationally acclaimed for recognising businesses that stretch themselves to drive sustainable change from within,” he added. “With the changes to the Index this year made to reflect the complexity of integrating this approach, our 4 star rating is an even greater achievement and reflective of the importance CR plays in our success.”

Midcounties has been championing volunteering in local communities, with staff spending a total of 44,440 hours in volunteering activities. It also managed to raise £273,000 for charity partner Teenage Cancer Trust in just one year.

Also recognised in the Index was the Co-operative Group, which retained its Platinum Big Tick obtained in 2013.

Platinum Big Tick achievers are evaluated on their long-term sustainability strategy and corporate governance, while annual rankings range from 1 star through to the highest 5 stars.

The Index scores participating enterprises against four areas of responsible business: corporate strategy; integration management; performance; and impact. The index is run by Business in the Community and takes the form of an online survey where companies follow a self-assessment process intended to help them identify both strengths in their management and performance and the gaps where future progress can be made. Participants also need to provide relevant evidence as part of their submission, which is validated by Business in the Community’s expert reviewers.

This year Southern Co-operative was announced as a 2 star organisation, achieving a score of 79%. According to Gemma Lacey, head of sustainability at the society, changes to the index this year have raised the bar even higher for participants. “As a first time entrant, this is a fantastic achievement for Southern Co-operative,” she said.

“Our 2 star ranking, awarded for achieving a score of 79%, reflects the work undertaken to develop our new sustainability plan – Making a Difference – the steps being taken to integrate this into our day-to-day business practices and the progress we’ve made in improving energy efficiency and waste management, supporting and engaging our local communities and ensuring we trade responsibly.”

Central England Co-operative also gained a 2 star rating, in recognition of its ethical business initiatives. Maryann Denfhy, corporate responsibility manager at Central England, said the society had been able to improve upon its 2013 CR Index score with help of colleagues across their trading area.

She said: “The society considers the global mega trends when deciding which key issues to focus its efforts on and as such, we have been recognised for work on a variety of initiatives. We aim to act on important issues such as reducing waste, managing the supply chain, developing community partnerships, raising funds for charities and working with young unemployed.”

Stephen Howard, chief executive of Business in the Community, believes this year’s index shows that companies are making real progress in integrating responsibility throughout their operations. He congratulated co-operatives for their rating in the index, adding that it demonstrated a clear commitment to an integrated approach to being a responsible business.

• To view this year’s CR Index, visit:

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