Specialist West Yorkshire-based wholesalers Suma scooped the prestigious Phillip Baxendale award for People and Culture at the recent Employee Ownership Association conference in Birmingham.
Suma, the UK’s largest independent wholefood wholesaler and distributor, specialising in vegetarian, fairly traded, organic and natural products and the UK’s largest worker co-operative, was honoured because of its ethos of employee-ownership, transparency and meaningful engagement with employees and driving notable activity to strengthen a culture of productive partnership.
Bob Cannell, Member Partner at Suma, said: “We are delighted and honoured to be given this award. Our multi-skilled, equal-status, self-managing working culture is a successful formula that many of the big corporations are now trying to copy.”
Suma’s achievement was saluted by Co-operatives UK Secretary General Ed Mayo, who commented: “Suma’s success helps to highlight the strong co-operative economy that exists in the UK today, with the sector outperforming the overall UK economy and growing by 21 per cent since the start of the credit crunch in 2008.”
The judges of the awards, named after Phillip Baxendale, a pioneer for the employee-owned movement, were Julian Le Grand, head of the government’s Mutuals Taskforce, Professor Jonathan Michie from the Oxford University Centre for Employee ownership, David Erdal, author of ‘Beyond the Corporation – Humanity Working’, Patrick Lewis from the John Lewis Partnership and Patrick Burns of the EOA.
Other winners in Birmingham included: Des Fitzgerald, Waitrose, who won the Outstanding Leadership Award; Felicity Hill, Enuresis Service, Central Surrey Health, winning the award for Employee Innovation; Clansman Dynamics, receiving the Productivity and Performance Award; Navigo Health and Social Care, which scooped two awards – the Employee Ownership Rising Star Award and the Public Sector ELMO (Employee Led Mutual Organisation) Award; and Hugh Facey, Gripple, who won the Voice of Employee Ownership Award.
Joint winners of the Employee Ownership Champion Award were Partnership Council, Childbase and Future Branch Structures Consultative Committee (FCC), Waitrose.
The recipient of this year’s inaugural Philip Baxendale Fellowship Award, to celebrate the outstanding total contribution of a single individual to the cause of employee ownership, was Stephen May, who has been involved with employee ownership almost literally since birth, as his father, Paul May, was a close associate of John Spedan Lewis, the founder of the John Lewis Partnership.
• To find out more about Suma, visit: www.suma.coop