Central Co-op Celebrates Women to Watch and Role Models for Inclusion

Posted by sam bishop | Published: 26/05/2023

Central Co-op has a culture that both encourages and celebrates Difference Makers across the Society – including annual Difference Maker Awards and ongoing recognition for the brilliant value they bring. The colleagues featured below embody the spirit of this culture by bringing about a step change for inclusion and diversity in the workplace to be expanded upon for the future. 

In celebration of the excellent results they have achieved, this selection of passionate colleagues have been highlighted in the Women to Watch & Role Models for Inclusion in Retail Index 2023 produced by Diversity in Retail in partnership with The MBS Group. 

The Index celebrates Sarah Dickins, Chief Member, Customer, and People Officer, who is the Exec Sponsor for inclusion and has been recognised in the Women to Watch index. The inclusion delivery group play a key part in Central Co-op's inclusion agenda, and the role models recognised in the group include Naomi Smith, Kiran Bhogal, and Samantha Thompson. Naomi, Kiran, and Samantha have all made such a difference and worked tirelessly on the ‘Educate and Celebrate’ inclusion plan to engage every colleague across the Society in being more inclusive. 

Central Co-op is committed to inclusive leadership teams and this year, we have invested diverse talent programmes including Global Women Leaders, Ethnic Senior Leaders, and Ethnic Future Leaders. These are unique, comprehensive, cross-industry programmes designed to provide a series of experiences and learning opportunities to support career progression, run by WiHTL who are dedicated to creating diverse and inclusive environments. 

It is also working to become accredited as a Fertility Friendly employer, having recently launched enhanced policies for Fertility Treatment and Pregnancy Loss, and embraced equity at the International Women’s Day event this year. This featured workshops about equity and menopause, along with talks from Dame Margaret Beckett, Britain's first female Foreign Secretary, and Dame Pauline Green, having made history as the first female Chief Executive of Co-operatives UK. 

The Society also shows its solidarity with LGBTQ+ communities through attendance at PRIDE events across its trading area, as well as internal educational activity throughout PRIDE month such as information guides, a Webinar to encourage understanding of purpose of PRIDE, and a Podcast shining a light on the journey to parenthood for the LGBTQ+ community.  In addition, colleagues have shared their personal PRIDE stories. 

Diversity in Retail is devoted to increasing diversity and inclusion across Retail, amplifying the impact of individual diversity initiatives and supporting companies across the retail industry to create diverse and inclusive environments. 

For further details, head to the Central Co-op website, Facebook, and Twitter. Details on becoming a Member can be found on the Membership site


About Central Co-op 

Central Co-op is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK, with a heritage stretching back over 175 years and interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment.  

Owned by hundreds of thousands of members, its 7,700 colleagues serve customers across 440 plus trading sites in 21 counties in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.   

Its purpose is to create a sustainable Society for all.   

It actively campaigns for food justice and works with FareShare Midlands and a network of local food banks. It also adds £1 to every Healthy Start Voucher redeemed in store and supports six schools in partnership with Magic Breakfasts.

The Society embraces inclusivity and equality and is a signed-up member to the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter. The Society is also a member of Diversity in Retail and it is fully committed to addressing the impacts of climate change by reducing carbon and food waste, increasing recycling and investment in community Sustainable Spaces funded by the carrier bag levy. It recently launched its Malawi Partnership to support farmers and producers in the country through the Co-operative International Trading Development Fund.  

It invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities through its Community Dividend Fund scheme which has seen over £109,769.25 shared out between 121 good causes in 2022. 

Press office contact: Sam Bishop, PR Specialist  

Contact details:   


07385 048048 

About Diversity in Retail 

At Diversity in Retail we believe that through collaboration we can amplify the impact of individual diversity initiatives, that together we can have a bigger, louder voice for the good of the Retail sector. Our mission is to support companies across the Retail industry to create diverse and inclusive environments and positively impact 1 million employees globally by 2025. 

For more information please visit: www.diversityinretail.com and contact: 


About The MBS Group 

For more than 30 years, The MBS Group has been a leading sector-specialist executive search firm advising all consumer-facing industries, with a particular focus on the retail sector. Clients consider us to be the partner of choice when searching for critical leadership roles that make a difference. We work at board level and on executive positions across all functions of strategic importance. For more information visit www.thembsgroup.co.uk.