This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter which is about focusing on getting more men involved in the conversation around gender equality.

As a man, you might think it’s odd for me to talk about International Women’s Day, but to create a fairer Co-op and #BalanceforBetter, it’s really important that men are part of the conversation. We need to listen and understand our colleagues’ experiences and only then can we be part of the solution.

Our Co-op has a long history of being progressive, from campaigning for women to get the vote, to being one of the only major retailers with a female CEO, and our Exec Board having a 50:50 gender split. But we need to do more. It’s not just about having more women in leadership positions, but creating an environment where we’re all respected and valued as individuals.

We know that the experiences for women across the business can vary and we’re working hard to change that. We all have a part to play, whether male or female, colleague or leader. We all have the responsibility to build a more inclusive culture for everyone.  After all, allowing people to be themselves at work is one of our Ways of Being.

There are lots of events happening across the business, both in Manchester and out in our stores, depots and funeral homes, organised by colleague networks and Inclusion Pioneers. I’d encourage you to think about what you can do to make your team or your department more inclusive.

For me, the one thing I’ll be doing this week is walking the floors in the Support Centre, starting conversations with colleagues and leaders and listening to what they have to say. I’d like to see more colleagues become Inclusion Pioneers, so when you see me please say hi, and let me know your thoughts.

What’s the one thing that you’ll do to #BalanceforBetter?

Saleem Chowdhery
Director of Internal Audit and Lead Inclusion Pioneer


Join the conversation! 12 Comments

  1. I’m so confused as to why it’s an article by a man on International Women’s Day! I feel like they’re demonstrating exactly why this day is needed. I think it’s great that it’s being supported by men but I feel they could have contributed to the article rather than being the face of it.

  2. International Men’s Day has been held on 19 November since 1992. I agree – lots of important issues to raise awareness of, including the stigma of mental health problems/suicide and domestic violence.

  3. Can’t wait for National Men’s day. Really looking forward to it this year. My husband get’s a day to thank him for being a great husband, father, uncle, brother.

    Having a National Women’s and Men’s day in the year really shows GENUINE inclusiveness, gender equality, etc.

    What do you mean there’s no men’s day? Oh, are men of today still being blamed for the 1950’s? Well men need a champion too- as we have women and the LGBT community covered.

    • Someone get Richard Herring…

      International Men’s Day is celebrated on November 19th and has been a thing since 1992.

    • It’s on Tuesday 19th November this year! There are some great things that take place, especially on opening up conversations around MH and suicide – I’m sure you’re aware this is sadly one of the biggest killers of young men. The Co-op offers an EAP via Lifeworks; if anyone needs it you can download the app and use it to access support for you or your partner.

      • I don’t know if I have heard of ANY events in Bristol this year (not saying there aren’t any)? Does anyone have a link so I can see what’s happening across the business? Thanks

    • There is an international men’s day, it’s in November. I’m not sure why you think men of today are being blamed for the 50s when the gender pay gap, institutional biases and the international struggle for women and girls to gain equal rights are issues affecting us today? IWD championing these causes does nothing to detract from men’s causes – there’s room for all of us at the table, which is really the point of the #BalanceforBetter theme this year.

    • International Men’s Day is the 19th of November. It’s funny, I only ever seem to see people talking about it during International Women’s Day… Looking forward to supporting the event you run to celebrate it. 🙂

  4. I get the need for men to be a part of IWD – its really important that we (men) shutup and just listen to women’s experiences and genuinely change ourselves for the better. As a man I dont feel comfortable seeing men across the business lead the conversation. I understand the goodwill of male leaders across the business recognising IWD but can they check their own privilege first before suggesting what the problems are and how we fix it. IWD is especially pertinent to expose the false equivalency of ‘all genders matter’ and highlight the structural and cultural glass ceilings that women face.

  5. I’m sorry but the one day of the year that’s about celebrating women and there is a man championing it. All for gender equality but a person who identifies as a woman should be representing this day.

    • This is the tip of a huge iceberg about gender, representation,power and equality. You could argue having a man championing this day for women is a good thing, and finally men are getting the message, or you could argue it’s a bad thing because why do I need a man to speak for me?

      I am a man, and I used to question whether we still needed this sort of day, surely no-one thinks we haven’t got the message by now.

      Well we do.

      Even if we treated all sexes the same in the workplace the same (and we don’t) women still do much more of the unpaid labour outside the workplace, and there’s a lot of that.

      Oxfam have calculated that globally, “If unpaid care work was carried out by a single company, it would have an annual turnover of $10 trillion, 43 times that of Apple.”

      So if you want to do something for Womens’ Day, tip your cleaner (if you have a cleaner) or make it your turn to do the cooking, or look after the children, or care for your parents.

  6. Staff and students from Co-op Academy Manchester are looking forward to joining Co-op colleagues at 1AS on Friday to get involved in the #BalanceforBetter conversation!

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