Equality is the much needed rescue remedy for the UK economy

One glance at the business and mainstream news illustrates the deep problems facing the UK economy as businesses collapse on the high street, wages continue to stagnate although interest rates are rising and more working families’ incomes are being topped up by the government.

It is clear that change is needed. And whilst the UK ponders Brexit – deal or no deal – there is work to be done to make sure that UK business is as resilient as it can be.

With 10% of the wealthiest people in the UK owning almost 70% of financial wealth and today’s news from the High Pay Centre and CIPD which shows that FTSE 100 bosses are being paid on average 145 times more than their employees, increasing from 129 times the previous year, the economy feels as though it has stopped working in the best interests of individuals.

Worryingly, news of this inequality exacerbates further division at the very time when the country is crying out for cohesion and common purpose.

The case for more employee ownership as part of the UK economy has never been clearer – and an independent panel of UK business leaders recently heard evidence from more than 100 businesses of the valuable and significant ownership dividend to be gained from employee ownership for the individual, businesses and the regional and national economies.

The regional resilience created by employee owned businesses is in direct contrast to the risk of over two thirds of all SMES – 3.4 million businesses – not having any succession plan (Aldermore Future Attitudes report) and only 13% of the £519bn family owned business sector having a robust documented and communicated succession plan (PwC Family Business Survey).

While EO is not a panacea, it offers a meaningful response to many, fundamental economic challenges, and does so by starting with a focus on the value and experience of the individual at work. It builds outwards from that nucleus to shepherd the creation of dynamic, successful firms that, together, drive a robust – and genuinely inclusive – national economy.

We can see from leading companies like John Lewis, that there is a way to overcome commercial challenges and value the employee and customer simultaneously. The employee owned structure lends itself to financial tenacity, growth and engagement – across both the employee and customer experiences.

In my recent Bigger Thinking series, I have explored the collective and individual benefits that come from an employee owned approach. Looking at businesses that are thriving in tough markets, the series captures the importance of business culture and its affects on productivity, engagement and growth. To read the full series, click here.