By Clare Camara, People Director

For nearly 40 years, Black History Month has been celebrated in the UK.

As an Anti-Racist organisation we’re proud to support the month –  which was founded in 1925 by American historian Carter G Woodson and has evolved since then to include the history of not just Afro-Caribbean Black people, but all Black people.

It’s a time to reflect on the diverse histories and achievements of Black people and their extraordinary contributions to society, even in the face of long-standing challenges and injustices.

We’ve recently made a stand against these injustices and launched our Commitment to Racial Equality and Inclusion. We’ll be using our influence to make a change, both internally and externally and kick start a real shift in the way we lead and do business. This is part of our vision to co-operate for a fairer world, and we’ll only achieve this if we tackle racism and inequality. 

Black History Month is a great moment to take the time to really listen and learn about the issues that affect Black people, and for everyone to use as a catalyst for change through broadening their understanding and a commitment to honest dialogue. 

Since the murder of George Floyd earlier this year the Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum and this has I am sure has made us even more aware of the injustices that take place around the world. I think that the most important thing that I would like us all to reflect on during Black History Month is that we can all make a difference. 

As a Black woman, who’s experienced the impact of racism at times throughout my life and career I’m proud that our Co-op has taken a stand and that we’re going to collectively do more across many parts of our business. I’m clear though that although we have some bold ambitions, I hope we’re humble enough to know we all have a way to go in order to make a change which sees us closer to realising our vision and making a difference in the way we do business as well as for our wider communities and the UK at large. 

We’ve all got so much to learn, and this is a great moment to take focussed time to do just that. We want to create an inclusive culture and hope that the toolkit below will help you to start the right conversations, be more culturally aware, curious and support colleagues. 

We’ve got lots of activities planned for you to get involved in throughout October to help us all understand Black History, inclusivity and the amazing Black colleagues we have that makes our Co-op what it is today have shared and inputted to some great resources – you can see our programme of events in the E-mag below and please do book onto sessions.

Week 1: We’ll look at Black History and the influence this has on society today

Week 2: Understanding today’s culture and the issues and barriers Black people face today

Week 3: Transition from knowledge into action – what can we all do to be pro-actively Anti-Racist

Week 4: Celebration of Black culture and our own internal role models 

I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Nelson Mandela ‘It is always impossible until it is done! 

Hope you have an amazing month which support the next evolution of us moving closer to our vision of Co-operating for a Fairer World. 

Claire

It would be great if this month you could update the information you share about yourself through the MyHR system. We want to give everyone a fair chance when it comes to promotion and opportunities, but we haven’t been able to actively track and monitor progress and reduce inequalities within our internal systems to do this until now. The more information you share about yourself, the more transparent we can be with our progress on inclusive colleague development. Any data you share is confidential, and we’ll only use it for positive reasons.

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Be yourself always, Being Co-op, Campaigning, Colleague support, Do what matters most, Great place to work, Show you care, Succeed together

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