‘It’s a real coup’: Political campaigner Peter Tatchell heads Co-operative LGBT Manchester equality event

By John McDougall

Workplace diversity will be celebrated tomorrow in Manchester with an event involving legendary speakers and passionate campaigners striving for LGBT equality.

The Co-operative’s award-winning LGBT network, Respect, have organised ‘Learn More About Event’ to promote diversity within the company.

Speakers at the event will include Lesbian and Gay Foundation chief executive Paul Martin, LGBT charity Stonewall representative Charlie Wheeler-Quinnell and activist and campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Sharon Pegg, Co-operative Group diversity manager and a fellow speaker at the event, is delighted a figure like Tatchell will speak about his work.

“It’s a real coup for us that he has agreed to be part of a Co-operative event,” she told MM.

“It feels an honour really to be part of the same panel as somebody of Peter’s calibre and when you look back at all the hard work he has done it’s amazing.”

The event comes only a few months after the Co-operative’s Respect network was voted ‘Employer of the Year’ at the inaugural Student Pride Awards.

Last year, Stonewall voted the company Britain’s most LGBT-friendly retail employer and Ms Pegg feels the success of the past year drives the group on.

“We’re quite humbled by the fact this has been an exceptional year for us and Respect, but we must remember its part of a journey,” she said.

“We never stop learning and we are always looking for other pieces of good practice we can develop through internal networks.

“From my perspective, the awards are absolutely fabulous but it is also about the impact we make on the individual, and for me this is part of the journey of Respect.

“From an employee perspective it’s important to make sure people can come into the workplace and feel they can be themselves and feel they have a career.”

The company – founded in Rochdale in 1844 – has supported over 40 LGBT events since 2010 and raised thousands for LGBT charities.

While proud of the firm’s Greater Manchester origins, Ms Pegg insists reaching out to communities nationwide is their primary aim.

“We are exceptionally proud of our Manchester roots,” she said.

“But when we are looking at our employees, it is about making sure we are offering something for people not just in Manchester or London, but something accessible for everybody.

“Equality is exceptionally important to us because we are an organisation that is inclusive and we make sure people employed by us are felt valued.

“We are a company that provides goods and services to the whole range of communities so it’s important to understand those people.”

The event takes place at the Co-operative’s new headquarters at Angel Square between 5.30-8.30pm on Friday May 24.

Picture courtesy of Pete Birkinshaw, via Flickr, with thanks.

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