The purpose of the members’ events
These members’ events are about the community and the Co-op’s role in
relation to it. They are certainly an opportunity to ask questions about the Co-op as a business, but that is not really the focus.
Some of the event I attended was about how the Co-op is helping communities at the moment, but this was not a grandstanding event; management are at the events to listen, engage and answer questions when necessary.
What to expect
There were a fair few video presentations, the presentations cover how the business is doing and what the business is doing. We also got to meet a local Member Pioneer. Then we heard from a local charity that is being supported by the Community Fund that members automatically donate to every time we buy Co-op branded stuff. There were also two group discussions and opportunities to have questions answered.
Who is listening to members at these events?
Board Members are there to listen to questions about strategy as well as general
concerns. Local Members’ Council Members are listening too and are in-fact leading the events. The Community Engagement team are there because they do the behind-the-scenes things that make these events possible and to ensure that they run smoothly.
Executive Members will be present at many meetings but not all, their deputies and other members of the Co-op’s senior management team are at all meetings. The deputies are called Enterprise Leaders and they report to the Executive. To try and give the events more of a community feel, the number of events has increased from 12 to 20.
There are a fair few presentations at the start, but the event does get more interactive as it goes on. The presentations were interesting and even Members’ Council Members will see videos they haven’t seen before. The interviews in the room are good because they make the content in the videos seem far more real than just watching it on the big screen.
The interactive parts, where members could share their views, seemed to work really well and could easily have lasted longer. The refreshments are light snacks this year as this event isn’t focussed on Christmas food like last year.
What did members say?
In York, members at my table and elsewhere in the room focussed on food waste, the impact of packaging on the environment and supporting foodbanks.
Members also asked why there wasn’t more promotion of the great work the Co-op is doing inside and outside stores. One member suggested that the Co-op could create or promote opportunities for members to get involved in some of the great projects that the Co-op is leading and supporting.
The impact that members can make at these meetings
The main reason to attend your local meeting is that members’ views are actually being noted and will be used. The Co-op is currently developing its community strategy and they want it to accurately reflect what members care about.
The views shared by members at these meetings will help Council Members, Executives, and Directors to understand what’s important in their community in order to meet members’ vision for the Co-op as a community-based business.
You can find details of your nearest event on: The Co-op’s website