Three Central England Co-op women hailed as role models for inclusion after featuring in influential list

Posted by james brindle | Published: 09/05/2022

Three inspirational women at Central England Co-op (CEC) have been recognised as role models for inclusion in the workplace after being listed in the Role Models for Inclusion in Retail Index 2022.

Store Manager Sunni Stewart, based in Leicestershire, Social Change Manager Hannah Gallimore and Chief Technology Officer Liz Robson, both based at the Society’s Lichfield headquarters, have all been included in the inaugural index published by Diversity in Retail, in partnership with The MBS Group.

The index aims to celebrate individuals in the retail sector who are driving progress on diversity and inclusion.

Sunni and Hannah are members of CEC’s inclusion workgroup, while Liz is the group’s executive team sponsor, and are all passionate about ensuring colleagues from whatever backgrounds are listened to and encouraging a more inclusive workplace.

Sunni is manager at CEC’s food store in Kibworth and she said she it was ‘incredible’ to be included in the index alongside so many inspirational leaders in the industry.

She said: “I’m shocked and honoured to be included in this list and to see my name included among so many inspirational people who are doing such great things to encourage inclusion in retail and in society in general.

“I’m extremely proud to work for a business that puts diversity and inclusion at the forefront of its values and being a part of the co-operative movement as a whole which is recognised for being inclusive and supporting to those groups that are naturally vulnerable within society.

“To be recognised as a role model is something I’m particularly proud of and humbled by. It’s something I take very seriously, and I’m determined to be the best I can be for my team.”

Hannah Gallimore is Social Change Manager at CEC where she has been part of the team since 2015 and inclusion has been a key focus area for her in her role.

She has been a key driver in the set-up of CEC’s inclusion workgroup and said it had been a hugely rewarding experience for her.

She said: “Our inclusion workgroup has given me the opportunity to meet wonderful people I might not otherwise have got to know, and I’ve shared experiences that have made me happy, sad, sometimes angry and that have given me hope.

“I’m passionate about the work we do to support colleagues and ensure they feel comfortable to have open conversations so we can continue to improve and make strides as an inclusive employer.

“We’re a co-op guided by strong values and principles, and I see it as a privilege to work with people that see value beyond profit and are more likely to ask, ‘why not?’ rather than ‘why?’

“I’m really honoured to be included in this list and be among so many exceptional people in our industry and it gives me confidence that we are doing positive things in this area and gives me an extra determination to do even more.”

Liz Robson is part of the Executive team at CEC and is the executive sponsor for the Society’s inclusion workgroup, something she’s passionate about and takes an active role in the group’s work.

She said: “Diversity and inclusion is important to me, particularly in the sponsorship of gender diversity in sectors and roles that have previously been challenging for women to join.

“In my current role as a member of CEC’s Executive team, I’m in a fortunate position to help influence and improve inclusion and accessibility for our members, customers and colleagues.

“To be recognised in this way as a role model for inclusion alongside such respected peers is extremely humbling and I’m determined to continue the work we’re doing within our organisation to ensure we’re an inclusive and progressive workplace.”

The full Role Models for Inclusion in Retail Index 2022 be found at


Notes to editors

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK with interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment.

Owned by hundreds of thousands of members, its over 8,000 colleagues serve customers across 400 plus trading sites in 20 counties in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

Its purpose is to inspire communities to create a sustainable Society for all.

It actively campaigns for the Government to increase sentencing for violent attacks on retail workers and works with FareShare Midlands and hundreds of food banks, generating enough food donations to create over 2.1 million meals for people in need.

The Society embraces inclusivity and equality and is a signed-up member to the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter, while it is also fully committed to addressing the impact of climate change and is on track to be Carbon Neutral by 2030. 

It invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities through its Community Dividend Fund scheme which has seen over £175,000 shared out between 116 good causes over the past 12 months.

Central England Co-op was named Leading Co-op of the Year by Co-operatives UK in 2021.

Press office contacts: Rob Smyth and James Brindle

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