In Conversation with Charlotte Lock, The Co-Operative Group

Please describe your role and responsibilities. How many years have you been in the company?

I joined the Co-op in January 2020, taking responsibility for data, insight, membership, CRM, customer experience and digital products.

 

What was your background previously and where did your interest in social impact begin?

I’ve worked at the BBC, running ‘Marketing and Audiences’ and BBC Sounds. Before that, I worked in data, marketing and digital consultancies, supporting clients from the Government right through to Tesco.

Growing up in one of the UK’s most deprived areas, I’ve always been acutely aware of social injustice and experienced it first-hand.  It led me to a degree in social and political sciences and gave me an appetite for work that drives change.

 

How has your social impact programme evolved at your company?

I joined the Co-op for the social impact it champions and delivers. This is supported by our ‘Community Wellbeing Index‘(CWI) – an open resource which measures the wellbeing of over 28,000 communities across the UK.

It’s the foundation of our social impact programme, helping us target resource and complementing our other support initiatives. We recently used the CWI to develop our community strategy, focusing on our three key missions: fairer access to food; fairer access to mental wellbeing services; fairer access to education and employment for young people.

 

What are the challenges you encounter in driving your social impact agenda and how do you stay inspired?

Our founding principles champion equality, equity and caring for others and those values resonate today. We actively campaign on the issues that matter to our members – from Fairtrade to shop worker violence – so there’s no issue in galvanising support.

The challenge we face is how much we want to do. There’s so much inequality in society and we have to be disciplined to focus – the CWI helps us to prioritise.

 

Please give an example of how the B4SI Framework (or its tools and additional services) has helped you in your role, and your company.

We use B4SI’s framework to help calculate the Co-op’s annual community investment. The framework allows us to do this in a structured way, when collating data from across all parts of our business. The figures are used in our annual sustainability report.

 

Please tell us about a recent innovative initiative adopted by your company.

We recently partnered with Hubbub to launch our Community Fridges initiative. The fridges make fresh food available for those in our communities who can’t afford it, to access without referral or proof of eligibility. We used the CWI to support this, identifying areas of greatest need. I’m really proud of this – the stigma of seeking food when you can’t afford it is real and prevents some seeking help.

 

Please tell us how you have supported the community during Covid-19.

Supporting communities during the Covid crisis has become even more essential as we’ve seen levels of community hardship rise. We shifted our membership proposition to respond, doubling our financial commitment to local causes in their time of greatest need in partnership with our fantastic communities team.

 

Please tell us about an example of Business Innovation or Procurement for Social Impact at your company.

We launched co-operate.coop.uk – a free-to-use digital hub without advertising, which connects those in need with local groups and individuals able to help.  It’s for people who don’t know where to look for support, but also those unsure on how to promote their amazing services. Our digital skills have helped democratise key tools and create the ability for all to get involved.

 

What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?

My biggest learning is to hire people with integrity and purpose and empower them to create – the results always exceed my expectations. As a leader the best fuel I can provide is positivity and encouragement… and of course budget!

 

What is your motto in life?

My motto is be kind and be fair and the rest will take care of itself.

 

For more information on the Community Wellbeing Index, please visit: communitywellbeing.coop.co.uk

 

 

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