I know a lot of colleagues are interested in the role of the Council, and what we do, so I wanted to share an update from our meeting last weekend.
A really important part of the Council’s role is to champion our Values and Principles. We do this using our Co-op Compass – a tool we developed to monitor and measure business performance against four key co-operative lenses: Member Value; Member Voice; Co-operative Leadership and Ethical and Sustainable leadership. Another important part of the role is to get out and about meeting people and engaging them with the Co-op.
That’s why our recent council meeting – the last of the year, was one of my favourites, as it was a good mix of discussing business and strategy, our social goals and community work, and getting out and getting to know more about our academies too.
Friday – back to school
After a quick strategy session, we visited The Manchester Creative Media Academy to see what the students are working on, and were treated to a drumming performance by the music students and a tour of the school. We popped into a science class and saw the pupils had made soaps as part of a chemistry lesson. We also heard how the school is trying to get more girls interested in science.
The day ended with a performance by the dance and drama classes and some food cooked by the students. I was really impressed by the pupils and teachers I met and it’s clear that co-operation is at the heart of everything they do. The awareness the students have of our Movement and the Co-op itself is amazing, and you can see how they live our values and have pride in being linked to us.
Saturday – back to business
Saturday started on a high as Steve gave us a presentation about Celebration Day. We saw pictures of how colleagues, members and good causes across the country celebrated our payout – I know we at the Council enjoyed taking part and can’t wait for the next one! Steve also told us about the 130+ awards that colleagues across the Co-op have won recently – from store managers to our communications team, and our product developers. That’s amazing news, and is proof that our Co-op is back.
It was interesting to hear from Mark Summerfield and Laura McKiernan in Insurance about how we’re addressing climate change by offsetting carbon in Ghana with Gyapa stoves. We also had a discussion around flooding, and how Insurance is sponsoring Salford University’s research into how to prevent floods.
We discussed Food, and there were lots of interesting questions around the Nisa and Costcutter deals. Other questions were around the impact of Brexit’s effect on food prices and the pressure of increasing levels of personal debt across the UK.
We also held a Directors’ Forum, which is a chance for the Council to ask questions of the Board, and is key to the Council’s role representing members’ interests and holding the Board to account. Lord Victor Adebowale, Gareth Jones, Hazel Blears and Sir Christopher Kelly joined us, and Council Members raised questions on topics including the Co-op’s role within the co-operative movement, the wellbeing of our colleagues and safety of our stores, how best to connect to the communities we serve, and how we promote greater diversity.
Finally, the Joint Working Group on Community Strategy talked about the success of the strategy so far – from Member Pioneer recruitment to members’ events. They’re currently thinking about whether the community fund might be able to help co-operatives as well as local causes, which is really exciting.
That’s it for this year. There’ll be lots coming up for the Council in 2018 and I look forward to updating you again.