Embracing EO: Responsible Business and the Positive Impact on Productivity

This year, the annual Robert Oakeshott Lecture is kindly sponsored by Brabners, a leading professional advisor and advocate of employee ownership and the good work agenda. Below, Brabners explores the relationship between EO and responsible business, and the subsequent positive impact on UK productivity.

The employee ownership sector has grown rapidly over the past decade and, at Brabners, we continue to see a growing interest from owners and boards who want to secure the future independence and protect the legacy of their business.

But succession, legacy, and culture aren’t the only advantages of becoming employee owned (EO). Employee-owned businesses (EOBs) are found to be better at recruiting and retaining talented staff, and employee ownership has been proven to increase productivity and employee engagement.

Independent research suggests that EOBs perform better, but also deliver better business with a strong commitment to social responsibility. Anecdotally, we’ve seen strong evidence of the way in which our employee owned clients embrace the opportunities to give back to their communities, often placing greater emphasis on employee wellbeing.

With responsible business high on the global agenda, more pressure is being put on businesses to consider their sustainability and social responsibility strategies. For EOBs, those matters tend to sit more naturally. The key characteristics of a responsible business typically go hand in hand with those of an EOB.

Studies show that employee ownership has a positive societal impact, with EOBs helping to stimulate economic growth through sustainable, more responsible business succession. For most businesses, a move to becoming employee owned has a direct impact on the local community, with most EOBs developing strong ties with the local community, and close links with local suppliers, education providers, and charities.

EOBs challenge traditional ways of doing business, and with a growing focus on responsible business, it’s becoming ever more important to consider the impact that businesses have on communities.

Alongside the proliferation of EOBs has been the rise of B Corp certification. Brabners was the first law firm outside of London to achieve B Corp status, and we have recently been recognised as the best law firm to work for in the UK by Best Companies. We support our clients in their ambitions to do business differently, helped by our own desire and responsibility as a business to bring about positive change.

There’s also a correlation between B Corps and EOBs, with both models sharing similar values and goals to develop responsible, sustainable businesses that care about its people. Many existing B Corps have already adopted an employee-centric corporate structure, and both sectors share a drive to do business responsibly, so it comes as no surprise that more and more EO businesses which we talk to are considering B Corp status.

The EO sector is delivering better business with an increase in social responsibility, good governance, and employee engagement. All these factors contribute to doing better business, increasing UK productivity, and having a positive impact on the economy and society as a whole.

To hear more about the power of EO and the importance of work quality on wider social goals, come along to the Robert Oakeshott Lecture, taking place on 22 February. Commemorating the EOA founder, the lecture will be given by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation.

Register to attend here