The Robert Oakeshott Lecture 2021

The EOA’s annual lecture commemorates and celebrates the life, legacy, and work of its founder, the employee ownership pioneer, Robert Oakeshott. 

The Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP delivered this year’s lecture, which commemorated the 10 years since Robert died, on Monday June 21st, 2021 | 1:00pm – 2:30pm. The virtual event, sponsored by Gripple, heralded a packed employee ownership agenda in the week of EO Day. 

During the lecture entitled ‘Ten years of reflection to drive a decade of ambition’  Jesse celebrated Robert’s achievementsreviewed the history and growth of employee ownershipconsidered how Robert’s original idea of employee ownership is helping to address current economic and societal challenges and discussed ideas to overcome the barriers facing the continued growth of employee ownership in the UK. 

Read a transcript of the the lecture by clicking here >>

Watch the lecture below.

About this year’s speaker: The Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP

Jesse Norman has been the MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire since 2010. He was appointed Financial Secretary to the Treasury in 2019, where he is responsible for HM Revenue and Customs, tax policy, customs, trade and tariffs policy, border readiness, and the National Infrastructure Strategy and UK Infrastructure Bank, among other things.

He was previously Paymaster General, and held ministerial office in the Department for Transport and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. As a backbencher, he was a member of the Treasury Select Committee 2010-15, and Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in 2016-17. He was made a Privy Councillor in 2019.

Before entering politics Jesse was a Director at Barclays. He researched and taught philosophy at University College London, and ran a charitable project in Communist Eastern Europe, among other things.

He is the author of numerous books and pamphlets, including Compassionate ConservatismEdmund Burke: Politician, Philosopher, Prophet and Adam Smith: What he Thought, and Why it Matters, which won the Parliamentary Book Awards in 2018.  Jesse was Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year and The House Backbencher of the Year in 2012.

Jesse has degrees in Classics (Oxford University, MA) and philosophy (University College London MPhil, PhD). He has held various honorary fellowships, and was Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 2016-7. He is an enthusiastic cyclist, hill-walker and amateur jazz musician.

Jesse was a lifelong friend of Robert Oakeshott.  He served on the board of Job Ownership Ltd, and in Parliament as Chair of the Employee Ownership All Party Parliamentary Group. He also edited and published Nuts and Bolts, a book on how to set up a food co-op.

Our 2021 Sponsor: Gripple

Gripple is an employee-owned market-leading manufacturer delivering time-saving simplicity and problem-solving innovation to customers worldwide. As a long-standing Trustee Member of the EOA Gripple is sponsoring the Robert Oakeshott Lecture, in honour of the Association’s founder, as it believes in the transformative benefits of employee ownership and Robert’s vision to grow employee ownership in the UK.

Previous Speakers:

Catch up on last year's lecture "The Rise of the Robots"

About Robert Oakeshott

The EOA was established in 1979 by English journalist, economist and social reformer Robert Oakeshott.

Robert lived an adventurous life which saw him complete national service in Malaya, study Classics at Oxford, be named a hero of the Hungarian Revolution, and become a journalist for the Financial Times. He was also a government advisor in Zambia, founded a school in Botswana and stood for election as an MP before beginning his focus on worker cooperatives and employee ownership.

When Robert returned to the UK in 1973 he was the driving force in launching Sunderlandia, a builders’ co-operative in Sunderland.  After this he studied worker cooperatives  and employee owned businesses including Mondragón, the large co-operative complex in the Basque region of Spain which lead to him authoring two books ‘The Case for Workers’ Cooperatives’ and ‘Jobs and Fairness: The Logic and Experience of Employee Ownership’.

In 1979, Oakeshott founded Job Ownership Limited (JOL), a consultancy to advise on industrial co-ops and conversion to the employee-owned model. In its early life JOL was supported by the John Lewis Partnership and Scott Bader as well as those who Robert advised and supported to become employee owned including Scottish papermaker Tullis Russell and Baxi Heating, (now Baxendale) the domestic boiler manufacturer employing 1,200 people near Preston, which converted to an employee benefit trust.

Robert Oakeshott retired in 1999 at which point JOL became a membership organisation and subsequently became the Employee Ownership Association in 2006 – by 2015 it had 200 members and has since grown to over 350 members from across the UK.

Robert continued to be involved in employee ownership in the UK and beyond until his death age 77 in 2011. Since 2012 the EOA has held the annual Robert Oakeshott Lecture in his memory.

You can find out more about Robert by reading a short biography here.