By Saleem Chowdhery (Director of Internal Audit) 

At Co-op we take a zero tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and discrimination of any kind. That’s why we created a set of Commitments, from right across our Co-op, to tackle racism and inequality and kick start a real shift in the way we lead and do business. 

As the name suggests, Zero Discrimination Day is a chance to celebrate everyone’s right to live a full life with dignity and free from discrimination. 

There are too many people in the world that suffer discrimination, abuse and lack access to justice. Minorities often find that discrimination works against them visibly as well as behind the scenes and as a society we all suffer the consequences. As others have highlighted, inequalities surrounding income, sex, age, disability, gender identity, ethnicity and religion continue to persist around the world. 

On this day I’m grateful to be able to share some thoughts with you. I know that I have many privileges but over the years as a British Muslim born to Pakistani parents, there have been times when I’ve experienced fear for my personal safety, suffered the financial consequences of being overlooked for jobs I could do and been frustrated by how easily Islamophobia passes the dinner table test. But this isn’t just personal, we know from our internal Talkback data, that some groups of colleagues suffer more with bullying, harassment and discrimination than others.

Our commitments to inclusion talk about speaking out against discrimination and taking action, so I hope the below session being held today will help create a safe environment where people can better understand the root cause of discrimination and feel more confident to take action going forward.

Spreading awareness

Today, I’m proud to host a session with Naomi Osei, a renowned global inclusion advocate, who regularly uses her voice to champion for change, transformation, equity and inclusion. Naomi will be discussing the root cause of discrimination to help us all better understand structural inequality. There are still places available should you want to attend and you can do so by clicking here.

Tomorrow, Inclusive Employers are running a session on how to be an active bystander with practical tips for leaders and colleagues. If you’d like to attend this session, please click here.

To find out more about Zero Discrimination Day, have a look at our inclusion pack.

Here’s how you can help…

We want to support our colleagues with the right things to do if you witness any kind of discrimination. 

The first step is to share your concerns with your line manager who’ll work with you and support you to resolve the situation. If you don’t feel you can raise it with your line manager, speak to our HR Services team who’ll help you find the most appropriate way to raise your concerns, and get your voice heard. To get in touch with HR Services, call 0330 606 1001, option 1 or email us at harassmentandbullyingcomplaints@coop.co.uk

If you feel that you’re being bullied or harassed, it can sometimes be difficult to decide how you want to deal with it. It can help to talk this through with someone. We have a confidential colleague helpline that you can contact for advice on 0844 728 0165 or harassmentandbullyingcomplaints@coop.co.uk.

Don’t forget, you can always find additional support by calling LifeWorks from a UK landline or a mobile for free on 0800 069 8854. For online support, you can visit the LifeWorks website, the conversation will be totally confidential. Register here if you’ve not already.