Member spotlight: Unity Trust Bank

Unity Trust Bank, the EOA’s latest Trustee Member, is looking to embrace employee ownership from both inside the business and beyond.

Unity Bank’s relationship with the EOA began almost 25 years ago when they became its bank. The bank has recently become a Trustee Member and is committed to fostering a deeper and broader relationship going forward.

Unity’s employee ownership is currently enabled  through an ESOP scheme, introduced in 2012 where staff receive 100 shares on their first and tenth year of working with the Bank.
However, the ambitions of the bank are to expand its employee ownership as it continues its transition so all staff will have a meaningful stake in the business in the next 3-5 years.

The spirit and culture of employee ownership is something already alive in the business and something that the bank believes in wholeheartedly.  Its culture and four core values – enabling, collaborative, inclusive and straightforward – apply both internally as well as externally as they consistently seek to partner and collaborate with firms who share its values and ethos.

Margaret Willis, Chief Executive Officer of Unity Bank, said:
“We expect to see employee ownership continue to increase and our approach to employee benefits will support this. In the short term we will ensure the spirit of EO is adopted through responsible working practices.
“We believe employee ownership creates an emotional connection, a sense of belonging for our employees who are vested in the business. This in turn drives engagement and teamwork improving productivity and broader collaboration both internally and externally.”

The Trade Union movement established the Bank in 1984 as a ‘force for good’ and this remains embedded in the Bank’s constitution. Its aim is to help businesses and organisations to prosper and contribute to economic, community and social change – in essence Unity is a Commercial Bank with a Social Conscience helping to create a better society.

As part of its impact on communities each employee at Unity is provided with five paid work days to use to carry out voluntary work. Already this year the team have been involved in a wide array of activities from supporting the homeless to decorating and gardening projects.

This is an excellent example of how the Bank identifies the demand for new and better ways of doing business – better for employees, better for customers and better for communities.

Unity recognises that an increasing number of SMEs and social sector organisations share the same aspiration to be profitable and sustainable while giving back. This societal shift is even more pronounced among millennials.

Margaret added:  “The 2008 banking crisis has brought about a structural not cyclical change; customers lost trust in the banking industry and demanded better. This led to increased regulation as the industry failed to regulate itself and the emergence of so called ‘ challenger banks’.

“Through our ‘double-bottom line’ strategy we aim to deliver sustainable returns for the bank and its customers and amplify our societal impact, this has never been more important than it is today.
“We became independent in December 2015 and as our business matures we will continue to engage with our customers to help us understand their needs and develop propositions which meet these as they move through the business lifecycle.

“Our advice for a business considering a transition to employee ownership would be: source the expertise you need. The EOA is a great resource, access the guidance /support you need and importantly gain access though membership to ‘like minded’ businesses and organisations.

“Unity will continue to seek out and partner with those firms and organisations like the EOA who share our values and philosophy.”