Lord Myners - a financial services minister under the previous Labour government and former chairman of Marks & Spencer - has been hired with immediate effect in the newly-created role of senior independent director at the Co-op, marking the first external appointment to the group's board.
He will earn just £1 a year for his efforts to help restore the group's reputation following the scandal surrounding ex-Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers and the financial crisis at its banking arm. He will lead a review of the group's 160-year-old democratic process and its leadership. .
The Co-op's recent woes have raised questions over corporate governance standards and the appointment process to the mutual's board amid fears that ethical standards have taken precedence over experience when key figures have been appointed into power.
Its democratic process sees directors voted for by members, and the chairman can only be appointed from within its board.
Lord Myners said he would work with the rest of the board to help the Co-op "realise its potential". He said: "Right now it faces serious challenges in terms of business performance and ensuring that the right governance is in place to deliver in the interests of all its members and customers."
The Co-op will also further strengthen its board with another two independent non-executive directors.
Ursula Lidbetter, recently hired chair of the Co-op Group, said: "We need to modernise and to embed the very best standards of corporate governance, while also ensuring that the voices of all our members and customers resonate through the business."