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Co-op’s principled culture yields great hiring results

On a December evening in 1844 on Toad Lane, 28 weavers and other shop owners from Rochdale gathered together to open their store for business, selling staples such as butter, sugar, flour, and candles for a fair price. They banded together operating on a set of principles that drove them forward, and eventually helped them grow into successful purveyors of a wider range of quality products. The principles that united them were providing an equitable share in ownership and voting power within the enterprise, and reinvesting in their members and the local community. They also pioneered distributing a share of profits in the form of dividends. Little did they know that the principles they established that year, now known as the Rochdale Principles, would become the founding principles on which cooperatives around the world operate to this very day.

Today Co-op, which can easily trace its roots to the Rochdale pioneers, employs over 60,000 people across the UK. Almost two centuries after that blustery evening in December, Co-op is celebrating its 175th birthday how? Naturally by returning to its founding principles — self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity — in light of their CEO’s firm belief that building strong relationships with local communities makes good business sense. A central part of this strategic focus to reinvest in their core principles is in attracting more diverse and qualified candidates to come work for Co-op.

Highlighted words represent phrases with unique impact on hiring outcomes for Co-op. The text is Co-op's values it reads: Our Values, Self-help: Members joining together and making a difference. Whether its supporting a national charity like British Red Cross or working in their local community. Self-responsibility: Every member doing their bit, making our co-op a success by supporting its activities and using its products and services. They encourage others to support it too. Democracy: All members are equal. Voting power can't be bought - it's one member, one vote. Equality: Our co-op gives all members an opportunity to get involved, like campaigning for fair trade. Equity: Co-op is committed to fairness. Solidarity: Together we're stronger, so members join together to help their co-op achieve even more. The phrases that are highlighted blue are more likely to attract applicants identifying as men, the purple highlights are more likely to attract applicants identifying as women, orange phrases statistically increase the time to fill jobs and the green phrases statistically decrease time to fill.
Highlighted words represent phrases with unique impact on hiring outcomes for Co-op

Co-op outlines the cooperative values (closely related to the Rochdale Principles) on its website. These principles contain very effective language for today’s workforce, and are filled with positive language and don’t contain much jargon, quite a feat for being centuries old. In the past two years, Co-op has used Textio’s augmented writing platform to imbue their values in their job posts and change demographics of people who can imagine themselves working at Co-op.

Graph illustrates 5 phrases and their impact and usage by Co-op before and after writing with Textio - Based on an analysis of 2,521 global Co-op jobs, March 2016 — March 2019
Based on an analysis of 2,521 global Co-op jobs, March 2016 — March 2019

Before 2017, only 5% of Co-op’s job adverts used the phrase support. Now, two years later, and with Textio well embedded into their recruiting workflow, this phrase shows up in 83% of jobs adverts. Similarly, other phrases that appear in their values like together, committed, and achieve, have substantially increased in usage. Textio knows that these language patterns statistically help Co-op attract more gender diverse applicant pool and fill open roles more quickly.

5 phrases and their impact listed: "Support" - 26% more applicants identify as women than average. "Committed" - 16% more applicants identify as women than average. "together" - jobs fill 8 days faster than average. "achieve" - jobs fill 5 days faster than average

It’s clear how much cultural values impact hiring. Textio also discovered language patterns aligned to Co-op’s values that are uniquely impactful for the company. For example, a phrase like support helps them to attract 26% more applicants identifying as women to apply, while a phrase like together helps rolls fill 8 days faster.

Co-op logo with 6 phrases surrounding it in various colors. Green - "make a difference", "inclusive environment", "building". Purple - "contribute", "diverse teams", "helpful"

Co-op also stands out when compared to job descriptions at the companies they most often compete for talent with, which includes a comprehensive list of other retail PLCs based out of the UK, such as Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, and Morrisons. Many of the phrases that make them distinct amongst this cohort of retail grocers align with Co-op’s hiring goals, and furthermore align with language appearing in their brand values.

Bar graph showing how many job posts the Co-op group uses three positive phrases compared to competitors. "building": 100% vs 8%, "inclusive environment": 99% vs 0%, "make a difference":45% vs 2%

Based on Textio’s data, when words or phrases like building, inclusive environment, or make a difference appear in job adverts, they statistically attract more qualified applicants and reduce time to fill. Co-op uses their distinct language up to 40x more than any of their talent competitors. Not only does this help Co-op stand out in its industry but also communicates that their employees work together to build diverse and inclusive environments where they can make a difference in their jobs and help improve their local communities.

Average Global Textio Score: Co-op vs. Major UK Competitors. Co-op scores an 89, Morrisons:70, Marks and Spencer:53, Sainsbury's:50, ASDA:31, Tesco:30
Average Global Textio Score: Co-op vs. Major UK Competitors

We can all learn a lot from how the Rochdale Principles evolved over 175 years into the founding values of Co-op, and the operating principles for all cooperatives globally. The language from these values resonate with a more gender diverse and qualified applicant pool, which improves the experience equally for both recruiters and candidates. The key lesson here to highlight is that language is at the center of cultural change. In order for an organization to be successful at achieving its hiring goals, the language that embraces its culture and core values needs to be present across all communication channels.

Textio simply gives your writers the power to be more intentional with their language and stay true to your values.

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