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Dramatic Take on Diversity Training at Co-op


The Co-operative Group is employing drama to promote the concept of respect at work and counteract issues of bullying and harassment.

Using drama-based training workshops, the group has put 140 senior managers through the course, and will continue to train 65,000 of its employees using a specially commissioned training film.

"Organisations cannot afford to ignore bullying and harassment in the workplace because they destroy teamwork, morale and commitment," said Amanda Jones, Co-op’s Head of Diversity. "We’ve tried to remove this negative behaviour by creating a top-down initiative, as an extension to our diversity strategy, to raise awareness of the need to treat others with respect and show consideration for their feelings."

Called Respect Works, the half-day drama-based training workshop ran seven times at the Co-op’s headquarters in Manchester. The content was tailored for the different Co-op businesses, which include department stores, food stores, funeral branches, travel agents and pharmacies.

Co-op also commissioned Steps Drama to write, shoot, edit and produce a short film which could be used to supplement specific training sessions.

The 12-minute film features characters portraying employees and customers in three scenarios. After each scenario, the main characters highlight their feelings and the perpetrators try to justify their behaviour. The film also shows footage of the Co-op’s Director of Human Resources, who explains how respect at work creates a productive working environment and fits strongly with the Group’s values.

"Our different businesses use different training approaches," said Jones. "We thought a short film would be the most flexible way to provide a consistent message which could be incorporated into the different training approaches."

Copies of the film, on DVD and video, are used to introduce Respect Works training sessions throughout the group. Regional trainers from the Co-op pull out key messages and discuss the issues in live, interactive sessions.


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