Renewed international call for employee ownership as a solution to higher standards of ESG | Fieldfisher
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Press Release

Renewed international call for employee ownership as a solution to higher standards of ESG



United Kingdom

Graeme Nuttall OBE, a partner at European law firm Fieldfisher, has called for employee ownership to reach new heights and fulfil environmental, social and governance (ESG) obligations. Leading employee ownership organisations have backed his proposal.

The Japan Employee Ownership Association and Southern Africa Employee Ownership Association have today announced their support for this aim agreeing that employee-owned companies should be an exemplar for reducing inequality, tackling climate change and sustainability especially as we face the ongoing challenges of COVID-19.
They join the UK Employee Ownership Association, Employee Ownership Wales, Scotland for Employee Ownership, Irish ProShare Association and Employee Ownership Australia. In July 2020, these organisations  jointly announced they encourage every employee-owned company to make an overall positive contribution to society and the environment, as part of promoting the success of the business, and to make this commitment in the strongest possible terms. Co-Operative Development Scotland also said employee ownership is key to a stronger, more resilient, productive and fair economy.

Mr Nuttall, a leading expert on the employee ownership business model and author of the influential Nuttall Review of Employee Ownership, called for employee owned companies to fulfil environmental, social and governance (ESG) obligations in his Gandhi Foundation 2020 annual lecture. The full video of Mr Nuttall's Gandhi Foundation's annual lecture is available here. It is available to read here in English, here in Gujarati and now here in Japanese.

Art Hosokawa, Chair of the Japan Employee Ownership Association said: "We are happy to join in the circle of employee ownership organizations supporting Graeme Nuttall’s message to encourage every employee-owned company to make an overall positive contribution to society and the environment. Ownership culture, being the qualitative essence of employee ownership, directly works as the driving force of all caring stakeholders. Taking positive actions for society and the environment is in the blood of employee-owned companies".

Tendani Nelwamondo, Founding Director of Southern Africa Employee Ownership Association said: "We join the many organisations encouraging employee-owned companies to make a positive contribution to society and the environment and to commit to this aim in the strongest possible terms. Increasing employee ownership of enterprises makes an important and relatively uncontroversial contribution to reducing inequality and broadening employees' sense of inclusion in the economy. 'EO' has huge potential as part of a wide range of strategies that benefit society and the environment including in COVID-19 economic recovery plans, saving jobs in company reconstructions, addressing economic challenges like renewable energy generation and as an option for a business owner struggling to find a suitable buyer for their business. Furthermore, these values can be promoted throughout a company's value chain."
Deb Oxley OBE, Chief Executive of the (UK) Employee Ownership Association, said: “We hear from many of our employee owned members that making a positive contribution to society and the environment is a priority – with 70% of respondents in the White Rose Survey identifying it as being part of their purpose. In addition, 77% felt employee ownership was a responsible way to model their business. It is a no brainer to make a call for employee owned businesses to be exemplars as they are practiced at developing and sharing their best practice , not just on being good EO businesses, but also on developing as good corporate citizens.”

Andrew Clements, Chair of Employee Ownership Australia added: "In Australia we are seeing strong interest in businesses seeking to create broad based cooperative employee ownership models. There is a strong correlation in Australia between businesses looking to create cooperative employee ownership models and those with desire to advance effective environmental, social and governance outcomes. It recognises that the engagement of employees through a broad employee ownership structure is a critical element to engage employees as key stakeholders in thinking and acting about ESG in a productive way. It has been seen as part of a broader facilitation of overall business success."

About Fieldfisher
Fieldfisher's leading Employee Ownership team has played a vital role in shaping the employee ownership business model for more than 30 years. Fieldfisher LLP is an enterprising European law firm built around people. We have market-leading practices in our four key sectors of energy and natural resources, technology, financial services and life sciences. Our network spans over 1,500 people across 25 international offices, all of which offer clients highly commercial, pragmatic advice. We are based in Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, the UK and the US.

About Japan Employee Ownership Association (JEOA)
JEOA is the only employee-ownership organization in Japan, promoting employee-ownership both in practice and academically. JEOA is an independent non-profit organization, located in Tokyo.

About Southern Africa Employee Ownership Association
Southern Africa Employee Ownership Association (SAEOA) serves the interest of employees and employers and is the voice of the employees, companies and shareholders on sharing ownership broadly with the people who make the company succeed. SAEOA's main strategic mission and focus is to drive transformation through employee ownership, ensure broad based transactions are properly funded and benefits are fairly distributed earlier to the target beneficiaries
About EO Australia
Employee Ownership Australia is an independent not for profit, member based organisation that represents a diverse range of members; from listed companies with employee share schemes through to worker-owned co-operative and mutual enterprises.
About Employee Ownership Association
The UK Employee Ownership Association is a not for profit and politically independent organisation that works in close partnership with its members to champion, promote and provide insight into the business case for employee ownership. Members benefit from unique learning, networking and trading opportunities across the network of diverse companies of all sizes and sectors.