First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently announced the establishment of a new industry leadership group which will aim to make Scotland the best country in the world for employee-owned (EO) businesses.
Under the strapline ‘Employees CAN DO Ownership’, Scotland for EO aspires to increase the number of employee and worker-owned businesses from around 100 to 500 by 2030. It will be backed with £75,000 of Scottish Government funding and will be co-chaired by Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills.
We caught up with some of the people involved to find out about the reasons behind the establishment of the group.
The First Minister, who revealed the news during a visit to the employee-owned Auchrannie resort on Arran, said:
“All the evidence tells us that employee ownership delivers benefits to business performance, the people who work in them and the places in which they are located. This has certainly been the experience of the Auchrannie team in Arran.
“The health of the Scottish economy depends on having a diverse range of business-types and employee ownership clearly has an important role to play in that.
“We want to make it easier for companies and workers to find out more about this model and to move towards it if it’s right for them. Scotland for EO will help to make this into a real option for businesses across Scotland.”
John Clark, chair of employee-owned business Novograf and member of the steering group behind the initiative, described how the group aims to cultivate the perfect environment for further growth in Scotland’s employee ownership sector.
“We have a choice: to be passive and allow the development of a support environment for EO companies to happen without industry input, or to take a proactive approach and seek to actively influence how that environment evolves. We believe the proactive approach creates the prospect of making Scotland the best country in the world to establish and grow an EO business.”
Evidencing the increasing popularity of EO in Scotland, Co-operative Development Scotland director Sarah Deas concluded:
“The appetite for employee ownership has never been greater. In the last five years the number of employee and worker owned businesses operating in Scotland has trebled and this past year we have been working on a ‘deal a month’ on average. Our client pipeline is expanding too, indicating take-up of the model will continue to accelerate in future years.
“Promoting employee ownership helps drive growth in the economy and create greater wealth equality in society.”