By Helen Grantham, Co-op Secretary and General Counsel

We’re now just under a week away from the voting deadline of this year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and elections, on Monday 1 June.

For 2020, our usual big get-together is going digital and we’re asking members to stay home and tune in live on Saturday 6 June as we livestream the meeting from 1 Angel Square.

When you vote on our motions at the AGM, you’re giving us your view on how we run our Co-op and helping to shape the campaigns we work on.

This year, you can have your say on everything from ethical trading and climate change, to the part we play in the wider Co-op movement.

And to show the difference using your vote can make, here are just a few things we’ve achieved since last year’s AGM:

Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities

We made Safer Colleagues, Safer Communities our main campaign for 2019 and have been working hard to protect our store colleagues, while addressing the root causes of retail crime.

Maintaining our investment in equipment, training and innovation for safety, we’ve helped colleagues in our food stores feel safer by funding technology – like headsets, tablets and intelligent CCTV – that helps them work better together and feel more connected.

In partnership with City, University of London, we’ve also been able to input into the first ever study into retail crime. And we’ve lobbied government by sharing over 600 brave and powerful testimonies from our colleagues with the Home Office, to help them understand the true scale of violence and abuse towards shop staff.

We also started working with the Damilola Taylor Trust to run skills-based programmes that help young people in our communities find gainful employment. And from the first cohort, we were delighted to offer two attendees a role here at Co-op.

Increasing our commitment to Fairtrade

Fairtrade truly epitomises who we are and what we stand for. That’s why for Fairtrade Fortnight 2020 and Fairtrade 25, we shouted loud and proud about the importance of buying Fairtrade products, and the difference it makes to people and planet.

We created a new webpage that makes it easy for customers to find Fairtrade products, businesses and brands, to help them shop more responsibly.

We also asked Co-op Members to make a pledge to champion Fairtrade in the future, and we’re continuing to explore more opportunities to bring our customers new Fairtrade products, while making them even easier to find in our shops.

Responsible sourcing

Doing business in a better way that restores nature and reduces the impact of climate change is a huge priority for us.

In a UK retail first, we’ve published our full greenhouse gas footprint and our plans to reduce it as part of our pledge to lower our emissions by 50% by 2025.

We’re also helping customers make more informed choices about what they buy, listing 30 key ingredients with the greatest sourcing risks on our website, along with the sustainable steps we’re taking.

We know there’s power in co-operation, so we’ve established a partnership with Chester Zoo to replant 5,000 trees on a former palm oil plantation, supported the call for a Global Deal for Nature and signed up to the UN’s Our Only Future climate change campaign.

Using your vote at our AGM makes a huge difference. It inspires us to act on the things that matter most to people and the planet. Don’t miss your chance to have your say in this year’s AGM to continue help shape our future.

Vote by Monday 1 June

To be eligible to vote, you need to have spent £250 at Co-op Food in the 2019 financial year or purchased a Co-op product in one of our other businesses.

If eligible, you’ll have received an invitation to vote via email (from takepart@cesvotes.com) or post, by Wednesday 13 May. If your voting pack didn’t arrive, please email the team using agm@coop.co.uk.

You can watch this year’s AGM live on YouTube on Saturday 6 June, where you’ll have a chance to ask questions as part of our Q&A with directors. We’ll do our best to answer as many as possible during the meeting. Please remember you will not be able to vote on the day and need to have your say by the voting deadline of 1 June.