By Matt Atkinson, Chief Membership Officer

This October we’ve been celebrating Black History Month.

I hope you’ve been able to take some time to get involved in the month, I’ve personally found it really inspiring but also incredibly humbling.

We all know that racism exists but to hear from colleagues about the things they experience on a daily basis simply because of the colour of their skin is incredibly sobering. John Amaechi made an extremely powerful point in his session last week – Black people are judged and treated differently because of their body’s ability to absorb vitamin D from sunlight. This sad truth is truly ridiculous and completely unfair.

I’m glad that we’re part of an organisation that recognises more needs to be done when it comes to racial equality and inclusion – and has committed to do more too, at all levels.

Throughout the month we’ve looked at Black History and the influence this has on society today, learned about today’s culture and the issues and barriers Black people are facing right now and heard more about how we can all be pro-actively Anti-Racist.

Being Anti-Racist is really important, as is being an ally for Black people. Being an ally isn’t difficult, but it is sometimes difficult to know where to start so we’ve created a checklist to help you do this.

As hopefully you’ll be aware, National Inclusion Week was the week before Black History Month. Colleague engagement throughout this period has been really high with hundreds of us from all our diverse business areas tuning into our key sessions. It’s been great to see us all really embracing the themes and looking at how we can all be more inclusive. You can find all the sessions here.

We’ve heard from so many of you on social media where you’ve shared your personal learnings and reflections – thank you.

Whilst this is the end of Black History Month, it is not the end of the conversation. We’ve committed to do more and we will do. 

The focus now needs to be on keeping the conversation going. We’ll soon be sharing our ‘How to be Anti-Racist and an Ally toolkit’ which will set out clearly what you can do, as well as providing tools and resources with how to start conversations and be an ally.

If you have any thoughts on what our dedicated diversity and inclusion team should be focusing on please email diversity.matters@coop.co.uk, as I said this is a conversation that is simply too important to stop.