June 2013

Building Reputation for Co-operatives

Co-operative Economy: Building Reputation Through Difference


A key element of strengthening reputation is to promote a positive difference – i.e. what is it about an organisation that makes it unique?

For this year’s Co-operatives Fortnight (the fourth year we’ve worked with Co-operatives UK to help promote the event) the sector is reinforcing its difference.

As underlined by The Co-operative Economy Report, the sector shows how it differs from traditional business models in the following ways:

  • Growth: over the last 5 years the co-operative economy has grown by 23%, whilst the UK economy as a whole has shrunk.
  • Diversity: 37% of co-operative directorships are held by women compared to 13% of FTSE 250 companies.
  • Values: its principles of shared ownership and shared profits, sit in stark contrast to recent examples of corporate tax avoidance designed to boost rewards for a limited number of shareholders.
  • Engagement: over 15 million people in the UK are now members of co-operatives (an increase of over 13% from the previous year).


Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, sums up this difference by characterising co-operatives as a ‘homegrown economy’,  “independent, owned and controlled by the members within it and local, loved and trusted by all those who form part of it.”

By emphasising this difference, the co-operative sector is succeeding in gaining greater visibility and respect, as shown by the reports in national media for the launch of this year’s Co-operatives Fortnight in the FT, Independent, Daily Mail and Scotsman.