GRANT THORNTON is about to make equitable history as it becomes the first major accountancy firm to launch an all employee consultation on a model for shared enterprise which will empower all 4,500 of its people have a say and a stake in the firm.
Some 99% of the company’s 185 partners backed a proposal by the leadership team, led by CEO-elect Sacha Romanovitch, with the full backing of the oversight board, to issue a consultation on the implementation of a shared enterprise model.
In a radical departure from the traditional partner owned and run structure – which dominates the professional services model – a shared enterprise structure enables the Top Five firm to become a firm run by all its people.
The firm is now actively consulting with its employees and believes the first stages of the new model – which will create an environment in which everyone thinks and acts like an owner – will be in place by 1 July 2015.
Sacha Romanovitch, CEO-elect, Grant Thornton UK, said: “My ambition is for all of our people to have a stake in Grant Thornton becoming the go-to firm for growth. The only way we can fully harness the potential of all 4,500 of our people is through shared enterprise – a sense that we are all in this together sharing our thinking and ideas, sharing the responsibility to drive the business forward and sharing in the resulting rewards.
“Businesses with shared ownership structures significantly outperform other businesses. In fact; £100 invested in the Esop index (FTSE-calculated UK Employee Ownership Index) on January 1 2003 would now be worth £749, compared to £277 if invested in the FTSE All-Share. They are also recording 55% improvements in productivity and 70% improvements in quality, and performed better in the recession, growing their sales by 11.1% compared to 0.6% for non-employee owned businesses. The success of this structure is exemplified by John Lewis, which operates in this way – and is renowned for its customer service.”
GT believes shared enterprise will enable the firm to deliver higher profitability and points to a different, more inclusive form of ownership, which will be attractive to its people and its clients.
The consultation will focus on three specific proposals namely the sharing of ideas where all staff can “contribute their thoughts on how to put its vision statement into action, through crowdsourcing the business plan”.
Shared responsibility will mean employee representatives will sit on the powerful oversight board while shared rewards will “open up profits to all of Grant Thornton’s people, entrusting them to work collaboratively towards achieving plans to double profitability by 2020”.