Colleagues from all areas of the business came together on Thursday 8 March to celebrate the East of England Co-op’s first International Women’s Day event at Wherstead Park in Ipswich.

As part of the Co-op’s 150th birthday celebrations, the independent retailer teamed up with local Community Interest Company, Future Female Society, to provide Co-op colleagues with an opportunity to gain valuable career advice, hear from inspirational speakers and network in a supportive environment.

From the mid-1800’s, women were able to receive their own dividend and have an equal vote in their co-operative, 80 years before they would be granted the parliamentary vote. Inspired by Co-operative history, this year’s event celebrates the Co-op’s fight for gender parity and carries the torch forward.

Minnie Moll, joint Chief Executive at the East of England Co-op said; “We are of course incredibly proud of our history, but with ‘Press for Progress’ as this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, we want to pledge our support and empower our colleagues right here, right now in 2018.

“As a responsible business, it is important for us to lead the way. We have had some wonderful feedback from colleagues and an immediately positive outcome has been the connections that have been made as a result of the event itself. Colleagues who otherwise would not have crossed paths were able to exchange stories, share advice and show their support for each other.”

The event was facilitated by Kim Trotter, founder of Future Female Society; a company that was set up 16 months ago to help support women and raise aspirations in the local community. Kim runs programmes that help young mums gain the support they need to get back into work or education, and offer young girls the training and opportunities to build their confidence.

Kim said: “My ultimate aim is to raise the aspirations of women and girls and fill them with the confidence to push forward with their own goals. Working alongside the East of England Coop to deliver their very first International Women’s Day event has been a fantastic experience.”

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