Our biggest and liveliest conference yet!

Our two-day conference, sponsored by Baxendale, saw
800+ attendees learn, share ideas and celebrate employee ownership to unlock their potential and power-up their business performance.

Great conversations left many feeling empowered to enact their learning on their return, while an astonishing amount of people belted out songs with our conference rockaoke band.

Keep reading to find out what businesses were crowned as winners at the Award ceremony and look through all the fantastic photos from this year’s event.

Welcome speech from CEO, James de le Vingne

James addressed a full room of business owners and employee owners from a diverse range of businesses and job roles. His speech highlighted a small sector punching well above its weight across multiple impacts as well as the scale of the opportunity to grow employee ownership.

He also talked about our evolving proposition to support businesses to deliver Great EO and launched the Proudly Employee Owned badge, a single, consistent, recognisable symbol for our sector



There were countless highlights from the EOA Conference 2023. Delegates took away many different insights and lessons from the event back to their businesses, but here are our top six. Click on each takeaway to learn more:

Joe Garner, former Nationwide Chief Executive, told us leaders need to stop, think then do. To dial up the positives, leaders first need to dial down the negatives e.g. fear – “if you put in one wolf in the deer park it will affect the behaviours of all of the deer”.

He said: “If we dial down greed and fear, then we can dial up purpose, potential and play to create purpose-led organisations that are also high-performing.

Our panel discussion on what business be doing for a more sustainable featuring Chris Turner, B Lab UK, Katherine Chapman Living Wage Foundation, Alex Veitch, British Chambers of Commerce, and Pat Brennan, CleanTEC Services Ltd, explored the profound choices that will impact our people, businesses and communities and how sustainable growth serves both profits and people.

While each organisation had its own insight, strategy and approach a final unifying statement by Chris Turner best summed up the feeling from panellists and the audience ‘its about building a sustainable human-centric economy’.

Lucy Gara, employee trustee and associate planner, from Employee Owned Business of the Year LUC, noted that it is really important to take the time to celebrate your successes and that is why applying for an award is really important as you get to review the journey you have taken.

She said: “Sometimes we are so aware of the things that are imperfect, that in completing the awards submission it was great to look back and think, oh wow we have made a lot of progress.”

Pennine Healthcare, Graeme Cameron and Mark Jones discussed how their powerful moto of ‘don’t walk by’ sums up the feeling of ownership in the business that was non-existent before. It was the result of switching from a profit focussed leadership to and EO people focussed leadership which has driven their best results to date. We were challenged to think of the impact of if everyone adopted a sense of ‘don’t walk by’ ownership when it came to planning for a more sustainable future.

What makes us happy at work? Conference attendees cited being valued as being at the top of the list relating to happiness at work by quite a high margin, however, the rest of the top 10 answers in almost equal parts were autonomy, achievement, freedom, recognition, transparency, flexibility, respect, purpose and money!

The importance of being together.

Finally, our Day 2 keynote panel also noted that being together is important to take the time to share ideas and make in-person connections – AI, technology, sustainability and health are a number of reasons why people are gathering less, however, nothing can replace the energy and learning felt in the room at an event such as the conference.


We were delighted to enjoy a drinks reception sponsored by Howden and an evening of food, drink and dancing as well as the presentation of the UK Employee Ownership Awards 2023, sponsored by Glide.