UK’s first Employee Ownership Day to raise awareness of sector

Employee-owned businesses, many of which are co-operatives, are set to celebrate the first Employee Ownership Day on July 4.

Employee-owned businesses, many of which are co-operatives, are set to celebrate the first Employee Ownership Day on July 4. 

Designed to boost the profile of employee-owned enterprises, the day has been initaited by the Employee Ownership Association (EOA), which represents over 150 organisations with significant employee ownership, accounting for three per cent of UK’s GDP, or £30 billion annually.

Samantha Dowling, Director of Communications at EOA, said: “The idea of the day is to celebrate and explain, helping people to understand why we are so proud to be working in such a rewarding sector.

“Intrinsic to the employee ownership model is the concept of co-operation. On that basis, co-operation is at the heart of employee ownership.”

Throughout the day, employee-owned enterprises, including worker co-operatives, will be celebrating both internally and externally. “The membership activity is the more important thing in this celebration, with over 100 companies celebrating that they are owners of their own enterprise. That’s significant,” said Ms Dowling.

She added that various other businesses across the UK will be stopping and having tea and cake together to recognise that they are working and succeeding collaboratively. Some members are taking this opportunity to raise money for charities.

Employee-owned enterprises are also organising external activities. A number of members are inviting people to come and meet with them and find our more about this enterprise model.

Gripple Limited, a manufacturing company based in Sheffield, will be hosting an open day while inviting employee-owned businesses from Yorkshire to showcase their products. More than 12 businesses have expressed interest in having their own stall at the expo.

Twenty John Lewis stores will be see members of staff wearing employee ownership t-shirts, while employees at School Trends, a Sheffield-based enterprise, will be dressing up in uniforms and share lunch together.

Through EOD, the organisers also hope to help employee owned enterprises to make new contacts, sharing knowledge and experiences.

One of the key themes of last year's Nuttall Review of Employee Ownership, EOD is part of a wider campaign to support and promote employee-owned business. The campaign is backed by ministers at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and by various co-operative societies and organisations, including Co-operatives UK, Co-operative Development Scotland, Wales Co-operative Centre, the Federation of Small Businesses and John Lewis Partnership.

The campaign is also aimed at supporting enterprises transitioning into employee ownership. On 4 July, Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) is hosting a roundtable with three new employee-owned enterprises — Fitwise Management, Network ROI and Turnberry Rugworks. Staff members from the three organisations will be talking about why they chose employee ownership and how it has worked out for them.

The EOA and BIS is also planning a conference in London on the day, and will be hosting the annual EOA Summer Dinner in Parliament that evening. More than 170 delegates are expected to attend the conference.

Jo Swinson, Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs at BIS, said: “I hope you will support Employee Ownership Day, joining me in promoting employee ownership: celebrating the day in your workplace and promoting the event on your website and through social media channels.”

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