July 5, 2013
Arup Global Chairman, Philip Dilley has said that the firm’s employee ownership ethos has played a major part in attracting and motivating staff and high levels of employee engagement. His comments followed a visit by Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and Minister for Employment Relations, Jo Swinson, to Arup HQ this week as part of a series of activities to celebrate Employee Ownership Day across the UK. The Government’s scheme has had a rough ride, with critics branding it “company shares for employment rights”. Although this has resulted in some major changes to the scheme, Cable maintains it is a positive alternative to traditional shareholder capitalism which had led to the “persistent problem” of short-term planning.
“The problem with selling a big idea is that you need concrete examples of things that work and can be seen to work,” said Cable during his visit. “This is where your company [Arup] is so superb as you have a global reach, a global reputation and a global brand. I hope more businesses give their employees a greater stake in their future and the success of their company.”
Said Robert Care, UKMEA Chairman, Arup “There are a great many positives that come from being an employee-owned firm, not least the fact that we can plan for the long-term instead of chasing short-term shareholder returns. I think this may be why employee owned firms are more resilient than their counterparts.
“One of the other advantages of this type of structure is that we have far greater flexibility to pursue great work across the globe that fits with our mission to shape a better a better world. That might mean going a little further to create a more sustainable building or infrastructure or to help our teams develop a new design technology. I’m not saying it’s the perfect model for everyone, but it has certainly served us well at Arup over the years.”
Arup is among a number of UK firms which support the BIS Initiative, including John Lewis Partnership, Co-operatives UK, Co-operative Development Scotland, Wales Co-operative Centre, the Federation of Small Businesses, and Santander.
The Government has now launched a consultation on providing two new tax reliefs to encourage and support the creation and growth of employee-owned companies.