The popular and prestigious Green Business Awards were held earlier this month. Winner of the overall ‘Green business of the year’ award and ‘Climate’ award was the Co-operative Group, making it a great candidate to be featured as a SBT case study
The Co-operative group is the largest mutual business in UK, owned by more than 6 million consumers, as opposed to private shareholders. The Co-op’s businesses extend to various sectors, such as food retail, finance and banking, funeral services and many more. However, it is not this that makes the Co-operative Group unique. It is its view on business and the way it goes about conducting its business, which is best summed up by the Group itself:
‘Like any business, we want to be a commercial success. However, even more important to us is the way we do business, and the way that we use our profits. We believe that we should offer our customers both value and values. Which makes us a bit different’
The Co-operative Group is a model for businesses wishing to become greener and more sustainable. Here is what we can learn from their business values and principles.
The Co-operative Group’s values
The Co-operatives values are idiosyncratic and powerful communicators of their intent to be a sustainable business (note: these values may differ from the Co-ops corporate values but are clearly evident in the way that they do business)
The Co-operative Group’s principles
It is clear that the Co-operative Group has a number of guiding business principles which help it live up to the values illustrated above. These include:
Sustainable business achievements
The Co-operative has used its unique values and business principles to achieve significant advances in its sustainability and environmental performance. Achievements include:
What can other company’s learn from the Co-operative?
The Co-operative group is a prime example of how businesses can become more sustainable, and how to communicate and embed clear values and business principles which create an organising intelligence for the business.
The Co-op is clear about their practices and success stories, which can be easily accessed through their website.
The most unique aspect of the company is that they give power to the people who they care most about, their customers. And in doing good by them they do good for themselves.
Charles El-Zeind is passionate about communicating environmental issues such as climate change and sustainability. Charles is currently involved in a grassroots community project with the Fiveways and Hollingdean Transition Network and writes regularly for the Sustainable Business Toolkit. He holds a bachelor degree from the University of Brighton in Environment and Media Studies.