Deb OxleyThis week marked the inaugural meeting of the Employee Ownership Association Network Scotland, with representatives of employee-owned businesses discussing how they can work together.

Here, Deb Oxley, Director of Membership at the EOA, reflects on a successful day for the network.

As an organisation that champions the virtues of engagement and communication, it is only appropriate that this week the EOA facilitated the launch of a new EOA member network in Scotland, as part of a UK-wide roll out across its membership.

With more members than ever, increased demand to network and a universal desire to learn and improve – these networks have the potential to offer significant added value to EOA members – and the wider employee ownership community.

Of course any network is only as strong as those that support it and so we launched this network in Scotland clear that it has to be member-led – just like the businesses that are part of it, which are, in the main, employee-led.

So it was great that not only was this launch hosted by EOA member Tullis Russell, and supported through facilitation by EOA member The Coverdale Organisation, but that we had eager volunteers from other EOA members offering their facilities and time to take forward the network.

But of course this new network must seek to fill a gap and to add more value to what already exists. And so it was great that the group affirmed that as it delivers the agreed shared objectives for the network, that these will aim to complement the existing activity of the EOA including the Annual Conference, EO Day and other learning events – as well as the awareness raising activity of CDS.

Probably of most importance is that there was keen support for this network to be a channel to inspire and enthuse the thousands of ordinary employee owners across Scotland.  It was agreed by everyone that it is these people that are essential  to businesses realising the many benefits that employee ownership can deliver, from increased productivity and profitability to improved engagement and staff wellbeing.

A member-led network that enables improved networking and trading, provides a route for more learning and problem solving and which inspires and enthuses employee owners – a challenging task but definitely achievable in a sector of the economy renowned for its innovation and resilience.