‘How being on the EOA Membership Council builds our skills and improves the member offer’ | EMC showcase

The EOA Membership Council (EMC) is eager to “put itself out there more” to showcase the work it does to help the Employee Ownership Association “develop and deliver a compelling membership proposition”.

In a bid to raise awareness of the work of the EMC, some of its representatives have shared their insights on how it seeks to “hold the EOA to account and represent its members”.

Representatives from the EOA network are recruited to the council to represent member views and support the organisation develop its services.

Oliver Smith, Head of Membership at the EOA and co-chair of the EMC, says primarily the role of council members is “to bring their ideas and challenges that support the delivery of the EOA strategy”.

He added: “In the main, it’s about helping the EOA develop and deliver a compelling membership proposition that has relevance and value, to put their member hats on as representatives of the network and say ‘EOA members would want this and would think that’.

“That’s why the EMC needs to be diverse with a variety of employee ownership experience and skills represented by the individuals that sit on it, such as those who are not yet employee owned, up to two years employee owned and beyond who experience the EOA in different ways, plus from a range of disciplines such as HR, finance and comms.”

‘Two parts’ to role of an EMC member

Employment law expert Paul Seath, a partner at law firm Bates Wells, has been a member of the EMC for about three years, having applied to get “further involved with the work of the association”.

“There are two parts to the role,” said Paul. “There is the networking outward facing bit where you can turn up to a meeting and have a good chat with people.

“There is also the behind-the-scenes bit of just making things happen, so working on ‘Task and Finish’ groups, for example, to identify a project and work on that to deliver something that can become tangible and useful to the network.

“So, you need people who are going to be hands on, but also comfortable being front-facing.”

He added: “There has always been an emphasis on asking members for their views, but it’s also about anticipating the needs of members before they realise the need is there, and delivering on that, rather than waiting for them to come up with ideas.

“You’ve got to have your finger on the pulse, a sense of what they might want and the issues they face and then give some thought for a solution to that, so it’s about being proactive.”

‘Having group with a voice really powerful’

Lucy Flower, Communications and Social Business Lead at City Health Care Partnership (CHCP), an employee-owned mutual, has been a member of the EMC since it started in May 2017 and says it has evolved and become “a lot more focused over the years”.

Lucy said: “I think we need to put ourselves out there a bit more, to show how we hold the EOA to account and represent members.

“In my mind, we are like a channel for the membership to feed their needs, their wishes, their negative and positive feedback through to the EOA.

“They can do that themselves, but the idea of having a group that has a voice within the EOA is really powerful. That’s the ideal and why it was set up.”

Benefits of being on the EMC

Lucy and Paul both feel they have benefitted from becoming a member of the council.

“I’ve learned so much more about the workings of the EOA, but more broadly about employee ownership. It’s been a huge learning curve and quite challenging, but I’ve really enjoyed it,” Lucy continued.

“It’s a really supportive, friendly group and there are loads of opportunities for personal development and to learn more about employee ownership to take that back to your own organisation.”

Paul, whose role at Bates Wells involves him working with HR functions of businesses after they have converted to employee ownership, added: “The reason for getting involved was to learn more about how that part of the economy works, which better helps me serve the people I work with.

“It’s a nice, stress-free environment in which to come and hone some skills and ultimately make the EOA that much better for its members.”

Sharing passion for employee ownership

Oliver says being on the EMC gives members “the opportunity to be part of the leading organisation for employee ownership in the UK,” as well as the chance meet on a regular basis with people from other businesses that are employee-owned or in the sector to learn from them.

Oliver added: “It’s an opportunity to contribute and share ideas. If you’ve got a passion for employee ownership and you’re enthusiastic about the EOA and the success of those in its network then it’s a good opportunity to get involved and have your say.”

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