August 4, 2020

Jo Whitfield: “Talent doesn’t have a gender, race or sexuality”

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About this episode

Jo Whitfield is CEO of Co-op food, having previously worked for Matalan and George. Jo is the first female CEO of a major food retailer, an achievement she is both humbled and shocked by. Because of the lack of representation of female senior leaders in the food industry, Jo set up Grocery Girls, which aims to redress the balance. As a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion, Jo has seen first-hand the impact of gender inequality. From a young age she saw how language was used to enforce compliance – “be a good girl”, “don’t cause a fuss” – and in her working life has seen how traits often displayed by men are viewed as preferable, undermining a woman’s contribution to the workplace. Jo says it’s important that we offer everyone the freedom of expression – “Our passions and our energies need to be fertilised and grown”. In this insightful episode Jo also explains how to reimagine education and the importance of careers support, why a diverse and unique background should be seen as an asset and a strength, and explains how the Co-op isn’t just a business, it’s a movement.

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