Dorothy Francis, Chair of Co-operative Diversity Action and CEO of Co-operative and Social Enterprise Development Agency in Leicester has recently returned from Italy where she was the guest of honour at a national conference. The one day conference entitled Valore Rosa (Pink Value) took place in late May at the Italian national Co-operative college, Scuola Co-op, in Montelupo, northern Italy. Dorothy addressed the conference on the topic of promoting gender and ethnic diversity in UK co-operatives.
The conference organisers had heard Dorothy Francis speak at the National Retail Societies conference in Swindon and were impressed by the work that Co-operatives UK and Co-operative Diversity Action is doing to improve diversity in UK co-operatives. Co?operative Diversity Action UK offers strategies, resources and guidance to encourage more people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities to get involved in co?operative enterprise, as there is an imbalance in the co-op movement in terms of involvement from within these communities.
Daniela Regnicoli of Scuola Co-op said “Dorothy’s involvement was a wonderful opportunity for us to share our experiences, our mission and our targets in terms of ensuring that the co-operative movement is fully accessible to all. It was an excellent opportunity to learn from the diversity strategies that the UK is employing and we will be disseminating the information across our movement. We look forward to forming an ongoing relationship with Co-operative Diversity Action so that we may continue and develop this work”
The conference also desiminated the results of a two year study into women’s economic power in Italian co-operatives and best practices for managing diversity and attaining work-life balance were shared amongst delegates.
Following her success at the Valore Rosa conference, Dorothy has been invited to present at a further national conference that is due to take place in Rome in late June. Dorothy said; “I am delighted that the work of Co-operative Diversity Action has achieved national acclaim and that the Italian Co-operative movement is so keen to learn from us. The UK appears to be the only European country to have taken the step of forming a body to promote involvement of ethic minority communities in co-operatives and this is attracting great interest from other countries as well as within the UK.”