How National Inclusion Week supports our inclusion goals

In our guest blog from this year’s National Inclusion Week headline sponsor, Caroline McMahon, Inclusion Lead from Co-op, tells us why the organisation has taken part in NIW for the past 5 years and how it has helped them to engage their 63,000 employees with their inclusion and diversity agenda.

Wow, where do we start?

Inclusion has been a huge journey for us in the Co-op over the last decade as with most other companies.  We’ve always worked hard to live by our values or co-operation and fairness, but the focus on inclusion, diversity and equity has made us re-look at how we talk to our colleagues. 

National Inclusion Week has given us a platform where we can talk openly, focus on our ambition to be ourselves always, and our colleagues can share their ideas, thoughts and experiences.

We’ve run a programme of events in National Inclusion Week for the last 5 years, but 2020 was our biggest year ever with our highest number of colleagues signing up for our activities, listening groups and discussions.

“It helps us to understand what’s important to our colleagues.”

Our focus on inclusion and equity isn’t just one week, it’s part of what we do every day, but having a dedicated week where we can really focus our activities and have a loudspeaker to all of our 63,000 colleagues means that we can better understand what’s important to them.

The discussions that happen during that week helps us to shape our plans for the following year so that we can best address what’s important to our colleagues.

“We launch inclusion and change activities.”

We’ve used the week over the years to launch important inclusion and change activities. 

As an example, we changed the way that we collect Diversity Data from our colleagues and launched this during National Inclusion Week last year.  The interest in the week and the attendance at the sessions we ran last year meant that we went from a standing start to over 20,000 colleagues filling out their data almost overnight.

“National Inclusion Week pulls us all together.”

In summary, whilst we continue to work to make inclusion and equity part of our DNA, the opportunity that NIW gives us to pull all of our colleagues together around a central activity to share ideas and experiences and help to teach, coach and learn together is absolutely invaluable and is the lynchpin of our planning and calendar every year.

A big thank you to Co-op for being such a great supporter of National Inclusion Week!

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to register for National Inclusion Week to access our FREE toolkit. The toolkit will support you to plan for a successful National Inclusion Week and has plenty of ideas of how to engage your colleagues during the week.