By Helen Grantham, Co-op Secretary and General Counsel and Co-sponsor of Aspire

You’re probably wondering why I’m striking that pose in my photo here on this blog post… It’s because I’m supporting this year’s theme for International Women’s Day: #ChooseToChallenge. I’m holding my hand high to show my commitment to encourage us all to take action and help create a more gender equal world, celebrate women’s achievement, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality and help forge an inclusive world.

International Women’s Day provides Co-op with an important moment to showcase our commitment to gender equality by celebrating women’s achievements and raising awareness of gender discrimination. Collectively I’m sure we can make a real difference in this space. 

For me, it means speaking up and encouraging and supporting others to do the same. A key focus for me as Co-sponsor of Aspire is to support our female colleagues to achieve their full potential and to call out behaviour and barriers preventing this. I’d encourage everyone to learn more about gender bias, challenge your own thinking and speak up where you see gender bias in others.

I’m so proud that we’ve such strong female representation at Board and Executive level at our Co-op and that our female colleague engagement levels remain high. We’ve also made progress with some great women in other senior management positions, although it would be good to see even more progress in this area. 

I’d also really encourage all colleagues to get involved today, however you identify. I’m sure you’ll have many female role models at work whose approach and tenacity has inspired you, so please take a moment to reflect and celebrate their success. 

This is also not just about gender, it’s for all of us to champion equality in the workplace. It’s about all of us challenging any barriers, welcoming everyone and becoming truly inclusive. We want our Co-op to be the best place for all colleagues to work – for each and every colleague to feel comfortable and supported in their workplace, be it in a Food shop, our depots, our Funeralcare branches or in an office.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality, to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Together, we can all help create an inclusive world, because from challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge. So, hand up high to show you’re in and show your solidarity…

For more information about International Women’s Day, checkout their website here. You can also read more about Aspire on the Colleague Site here and you can join Aspire Mailing List. Show your support on social media using #ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021 #Beingcoop.

We’re also proud to have joined forces with the Prince’s Trust to #ChangeAGirlsLife and see that no woman is left behind this #IWD. Did you know that 5p from every sale of Co-op’s period product range goes to the Prince’s Trust, helping young women who are facing enormous challenges to turn their lives around, access courses to boost their confidence and kick start their career #ChooseToChallenge. For more information visit

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. On the subject of female representation in the workplace, can everyone please be encouraged NOT to address their female colleagues as ‘guys’? (“Hi guys!” “You guys” etc. This is increasingly becoming the standard greeting in meetings across the Co-op. Often meetings which are populated mainly or sometimes wholly of women. We are not guys, we are women. It’s not a harmless gender neutral term, it’s eroding our identity and our collective presence. Please stop!

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