Employee-ownership: Ian Poree on Laying the Foundations for a More Equal Society
In my first 90 days with Seetec, I have been unceasingly impressed by the dedication to the service of others that is the essence of our company.
In my previous role as a commissioner of Seetec services, the way the company conducted itself always stood out. Now, having spent some on the inside the business I see that its DNA is a culture of public service and a genuine desire to help people to fulfil their potential. It is a privilege for me to serve alongside all the other employee owners who share values that are not merely words, but are expressed in countless actions of support, compassion and care every single day.
The need for a business like Seetec - with the values it possesses - has never been more acute or urgent. Across the UK and Ireland, the extent of the damage wrought by the pandemic to our society and economy is becoming apparent. As unemployment rises, we see attendant increases in social dislocation, inequality and injustice. There are clear risks to business investment as nervous leaders prioritise the conservation of funds over investments in human and social capital. Our people are on the frontline, helping people affected by the pandemic and creating the services that with help them back into work, develop new skills or prevent them returning to crime.
As we respond to these immediate challenges, we also need to retain focus on the drivers of better services for the people, places and businesses we serve. The use of data and evidence-based practice in our sectors is still too infrequent. Too often we pick up the pieces after harm is caused in our communities, rather than prevent it from happening in the first place. As a public and businesses services provider with 35 years’ history, we have a huge amount of data, insight and expertise that can change our society for the better. We have a moral duty to put that to work and advocate for the people, places and business we support so they can prosper.
The idea of a company owned by its employees was once a radical idea. It has since become the foundation stone on which some of the best known and loved companies have been built. John Lewis is the obvious example but there are many others, including Aardman Animations in entertainment, Riverford Organic in farming and Arup, in design and engineering. As the first generation of employee owners at Seetec, we have an opportunity to chart a course towards the same kind of success as the largest employee-owned provider of public and business services. The prize is a radically different model where the interests of those providing the service is tightly aligned with those we support. In so doing, we will not just build back better after the pandemic, we will also lay the foundations for a more equal society, enabling all of us to fulfil our potential.