By Ruwaida Mohammed, Chair of the Rise Network
As the Chair of Rise, our colleague network that supports colleagues from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, I’m delighted to see Co-op putting the spotlight on Black History Month and to see the high-level of engagement from colleagues across the business so far.
The Co-op has a long history of standing up against injustice and inequalities. Most recently this is reflected in our stance on race, you can read more about this in our Commitment to Racial Equality and Inclusion.
As a network we believe cultural awareness and events like this play a huge part in creating an inclusive culture, as the more we can understand, appreciate and celebrate different cultures, the better we can work together. When designing what the month would look and feel like for colleagues alongside our inclusion team, we felt it was important to recognise the need to be bold in this space following Co-op’s commitment to be Anti-Racist.
That’s why next week, we’ll be focusing on setting up inclusion circles as a place for our Black / Afro-Caribbean colleagues to come together in a safe space. Once together, we’ll discuss race, racism and racial micro-aggressions, and how the Co-op can become an anti-racist organisation for both customers and colleagues. We will also dive into subjects like white privilege, language and terminology which can often be a barrier, particularly when discussing race.
And later on this Black History Month we’ll learn about what it means to be Anti-Racist and how to take action. This may feel uncomfortable for some of us, who aren’t used to speaking out, but for us to achieve that ambition we need to be brave and speak up.
I hope that the month helps educate and celebrate Black history and would love to keep the conversation going all year round.
For those who aren’t aware, as well as celebrating cultural events like Black History Month, we’ve also established a BAME working party which I’m part of – its purpose is to face into some of the issues and barriers that exist within our processes at Co-op, and to provide real life experiences, to help re-design some of these processes. If anyone would like to get involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read all about the sessions below and I really hope you enjoy the month.