Excessive executive pay, insufficient tax payments and a lack of commitment to employees has damaged the integrity of big business.
With so many high-profile cases about multi-billion pound companies paying small amounts of tax and staff working week to week on zero hours contracts, co-operatives are well placed to shift the tide.
In a report over the summer, the Financial Reporting Council said big companies needed to improve trust in all that they do. It suggested that a healthy culture will generate value and lead to strengthened corporate governance.
When the FRC talks about governance, it expects organisations to embed and integrate the values of the company and to provide incentives to ensure this happens. It also says companies should assess, measure and engage their values.
Co-operatives are not perfect by any means at corporate governance. But our values and culture are much stronger than privately-owned companies. There is no ambiguity about what a co-op is there to do – and many reinforce the co-op values right from induction through to everyday business practices.
It is this landscape, along with the disenfranchisement of young people from big business, that should set the stage for a co-operative revolution.
We’ve already seen the start of a change through the establishment of platform co-ops – a way for people, wherever they are, to work together.
It’s not just co-ops that recognise the vital contribution of the sector. The world’s top business leaders came together this month at the B20 Summit in China and said co-ops are a perfect model for start-ups.
Why? The Employment taskforce said co-operatives allow the costs and risks of business to be spread across a number of stakeholders. Thus, they believe that the business model will allow businesses to scale much more quickly and with fewer burdens.
The group of leaders also called on governments to recommend co-operatives as the business model of choice among entrepreneurs.
A self-help model that brings collective benefits goes against the notion of big business and will avoid tax and employment scandals – which will ultimately bring greater benefits to people, communities and countries.
Co-operatives UK agrees. This month it has said co-operatives should take back control during Brexit negotiations. For the UK to have a bright future once it leaves the European Union, the sector body will attempt to ensure co-operatives are at the centre of discussions about creating a fair and sustainable economy, with resilient businesses and stronger communities.
We know it is the co-operative model that can deliver this, and more. With this month’s blessing from the B20 leaders, our case is now even stronger. Let’s do it. Let’s take control.
In this article
- British co-operative movement
- Business models
- Co-operatives UK
- Consumers' co-operative
- Financial Reporting Council
- Market socialism
- Social Issues
- The Co-operative brand
- The Co-operative Group
- United Kingdom
- From the editor