Caoire Blakemore & Carol Welch
Responsible Business Director & Chief Executive, A. F. Blakemore & Sons Ltd

Carol Welch and Caoire Blakemore Last year we changed our Diversity & Inclusion governance, so that each area is sponsored by an Executive Leader, with a diverse lead who is often has lived experience of the focus area, in support.

We also launched ‘Our Women in Blakemore’ awards with over 350 inspiring nominations, including for our male award SupportHer. We aspire to develop a more diverse set of talent into our senior leadership positions, and recently launched two Women in Leadership apprentice schemes aimed at mid and senior level women, addressing the barriers that may be preventing progress.

This covers everything from psychological courage and ambitious guilt to strategic leadership and managing change. There is so much more we can do, but schemes like this open more opportunities for women, and in return develops our pipeline of talented women.

“I was brought up to believe you can do anything you put your mind to regardless of gender but have realised this unfortunately doesn’t always translate into real life. I’m determined to use my privilege to level the playing field in driving inclusion and diversity. Working with those around you is the biggest strength you can have – to take advice and opinions from all kinds of colleagues makes for better business. But also spreading the ownership of Diversity & Inclusion depends on the strength of those around you also – it can’t just be a solo voice.

As a mother I’ve learnt first-hand how hard it is to juggle work and home life, but also the presumptions that you get lumbered with. Creating a gender plan that takes into consideration the whole woman is key – long gone are the days where you are expected to separate the professional you, and the authentic you.”

Caoire Blakemore, Responsible Business Director

“Being brought up in a traditional North-East culture means I’m passionate about seeking out and creating inclusive environments that enable everyone to be the best they can be.

At AF Blakemore inclusivity isn’t just an initiative, it is woven into our DNA, ‘The Blakemore Way’ defines our purpose, values, and the way we behave to enable teams to give their all. Inclusivity is critical in our retail teams. Our SPAR stores are community anchors, so it is vitally important that we understand the broad needs of customers in communities we serve. Likewise, our supply chains teams are some of the most diverse in the business and creating an inclusive environment which allows them to contribute is a priority.”

Carol Welch, Chief Executive

February 2024