‘A vehicle for unleashing employees’ potential’ – The Industry Club Goes EO 

Creative recruiter, The Industry Club, has marked its thirteenth year by transitioning to employee ownership.  

Image: The Industry Club

With support and guidance from Baxendale, the London-based recruiter has transferred 100% of its shareholding to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT). 

“I've seen first-hand the transformational impact employee ownership has on performance and the economy,” says MD Mellissa Smith, who founded the business back in 2011.

“It's not just an alternative business model; it's a vehicle for unleashing employees’ potential and driving innovation.” 

Putting Employees First

The move to employee ownership (EO) was driven largely by the desire to provide the team the opportunity to have a more significant share in the business and its bright future. 

“Moving to employee ownership means our carefully curated culture can be preserved and protected, and ensures our combined experience is brought to the fore, for the benefit of our clients, and our industry,” says Melissa.  

Employees have contributed to the incredible success the company has enjoyed to date and EO means they’re now all owners sharing in the benefits of that success.  

“Transferring ownership is a vote of confidence in a team that has contributed so much to our success over the years,” Melissa adds. 

She’ll remain with The Industry Club as a team member until 2030, stating that whilst she’s still in the business, she’ll continue to champion and support the team as they grow into their new roles as employee owners.  

Social and Environmental Impact 

As well as employees, communities, and businesses themselves, employee ownership also benefits the environment.  

Unsurprisingly, many EO businesses have sustainability coded into their operations and outreach. And The Industry Club is testament to this socially responsible approach.  

"In the UK, diverse business structures like employee owned firms are not only enhancing the vibrancy of our economy but are key in building resilience and pushing boundaries,” says Mellissa. 

“Because they’re run in an open way, employee owned businesses tend to have a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility and involvement with the communities they operate in.” 

To date, The Industry Club has racked up an impressive roster of social and environmental impacts.  

In 2021, it successfully ran DE&I initiative Marketing Debuts, introducing over thirty new people to advertising and marketing. The majority of these came from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. 

Fast forward to 2024, the business has signed up to Just One Tree – a non-profit initiative turbocharging global tree reforestation.  

With each new client, new brief it receives, and placements made, The Industry Club has committed to planting trees.  

As if that wasn’t enough, the business will also sponsor this year’s Gerety Awards – the global advertising awards boasting a diverse jury.  

The Power of Voice 

EO is all about providing employees with a stake in a say in their work. That’s impossible without empowering and engaging employee voice.  

For EOT-based businesses like The Industry Club, that’s where the Trust Board comes in.  

“My role is to make sure everyone’s voice gets heard by having both team and one to one conversations with everyone,” says Annie Wigley, the business’ Principal Consultant for Finance and Resource Management who serves as the Employee Representative on the Trust Board.  

“Getting back to basics and reminding everyone of our company values has been crucial to give everyone a solid framework for pitching their ideas and suggestions to shape our business and its future.  

“We’ve always been open with sharing how things operate, but the real game-changer is giving everyone a platform to really influence the long-term vision.  

“More than ever all suggestions and opinions are valued and there’s definitely a new energy and excitement in the air that we’re all in this together and accountable.” 

James de le Vingne, Chief Executive of the eoa, says “The Industry Club embody so much of what makes employee owned businesses great. They’re living, breathing proof of a better way of powering business for employees, the environment, and everything in between.  I’m excited to see what the future holds for the business and its employee owners.” 

As well as legal support from Baxendale, The Industry Club’s vision was supported by Harry Pocknell, of the eoa Membership Council, and Arabella Lewis-Smith from eoa Partner member Salad Creative

Discover more about the types of EO and what becoming employee owned actually entails.  

Share your insights and good news stories directly to our thriving community in the eo Hub. If you’re not already signed up, create a profile today and join thousands of others in our exclusive online member area. 

For anything related to stories, please email Dominic

For media enquires, contact Keely

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