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Tue, 27 October 2020

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Unleashing co-operatives and other mutuals is critical to the recovery

Unleashing co-operatives and other mutuals is critical to the recovery

The new report highlights the importance of business ownership in shaping how organisations respond to meeting the needs of society | Credit: Unsplash

Building Societies Association

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Speaking at the launch of a new report, Shadow Chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, emphasised the critical role of co-operatives and other mutuals in rebuilding business, recovering jobs and retraining workers.

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This year, the way we view the world changed. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare existing social and economic divides in our country. But it has also demonstrated that we rely on the people around us more than we might have ever realised. 

The challenges we face in rebuilding society after coronavirus, alongside the imperative to adapt to the huge environmental, technological and social changes affecting the world, suggest we need to give a stronger voice to various groups of stakeholders.

This week, the Building Societies Association, with the Association of Financial Mutuals, Co-operatives UK, the Employee Ownership Association and Social Enterprise UK launched a new report, Rebuilding Business for Society, highlighting the importance of business ownership in shaping how organisations respond to meeting the needs of society. 

The report recommends rebuilding the corporate ecosystem, enabling different forms of business to thrive, giving greater voice to various groups in society, including consumers, employees and local communities.

Speaking at the launch, Anneliese Dodds, the Shadow Chancellor, welcomed the report, saying it had “some very important foundations” on how we rebuild businesses in a responsible way.

"We should be seeing the business environment and the laws that govern it being designed with co-operatives as part of the conversation from the very beginning,” she said.

Referring to the report, the MP for Oxford East said that we build on the ideas in the report because “they are going to be fundamental to the future of our economy”.

“We've talked about unleashing co-operatives because there's so much potential there,” she continued.

“We need to look at recovering jobs, we then also need to focus on retraining workers and we also do need to rebuild businesses. I think that the organisations represented here have something to say about all of those different goals,” she explained.

The report explains how a greater variety of business ownership models can better meet society’s needs, how ownership determines who gets the value created by the business, how culture is shaped, purpose is delivered, and the business environment that is needed to support the growth in different types of firm.

Baroness Morgan also spoke at the launch and said that the report was a “great reminder” about the different types of business ownership models that exist.

“We tend to rush towards the limited company model perhaps a bit too quickly,” she explained.

Baroness Morgan said that social enterprises and co-operatives and mutuals will “absolutely play their part”, in demonstrating that it is possible to look after existing employees, but also to take on future employees and help people to retrain.

Hosting the event, Lord Adebowale said: “We need to move away from historic PLC first mindset to enable all forms of business ownership to thrive.”

He said that we need to ensure that legislation facilitates rather inhibits different ownership types.

The report describes the important differences that employees experience in different types of firm ownership. It highlights that these differences have been underplayed and undervalued for too long.

Baroness Morgan also celebrated the report’s emphasis on the culture of a business.

“As millennials are recruited, they want to work for organisations that have both a positive culture, a respectful culture, but also a real sense of purpose,” she said.

“Co-operatives and social enterprises have been leading the way when it comes to much more inclusive workforce development,” said the Shadow Chancellor.

By building on their heritage of democratic ownership, co-operatives, mutuals, employee-owned firms and social enterprises can integrate communities and play a leading role in securing a more sustainable economic, social and environmental future for all.

You can read the report here.

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