Happy EO day! What being an employee-owned trust means to Agulhas

This EO day marks 6 months since Agulhas became employee-owned (EO), run by those who know Agulhas best – our people. Since then, we’ve started on our journey of employee-ownership, learning more about what it means to be owned by our people, the benefits of EO, and how our staff can be more directly involved and invested in Agulhas’ present and future. We have grown in size from 17 to a company of more than 20 in just a few months, and all our employees are co-owners from the moment they join.

Our journey towards making co-ownership real and relevant for our people has been the official formation of a ‘co-owners forum’, in which all our staff can contribute their ideas to help Agulhas grow and develop, for both our people and our clients. Regular meetings will ensure employee representation in decision-making, and the future of Agulhas. The forum itself will allow individuals to invest their time and experience in projects that are important to them, ensuring Agulhas continues to progress based on its core values.

The first meetings have led to the creation of new employee-run working groups. These groups will lead on projects and ideas that are important to our people, like staff wellbeing, getting back to the office safely after many months of lockdowns, and our Unlearning sessions, which seek to understand better how we can decolonise international development from within. In the coming months, these working groups will enable Agulhas to continue to benefit from continuous learning and the unique insights and experience our employees bring to the company. In time, they will adapt based on strategic, business and employee needs, and new groups will be agreed upon collectively by the forum.

‘Being an employee-owner has led me to think about work, about my place at work in a totally different way. I feel more connected to the future of the organisation. Also, being part of the Employee Ownership Association (EOA), I have seen what a diversity of approaches there are to being employee-owned which opens up so many possibilities to follow your own unique path.’

Mark Kelleher, Co-owners’ Forum Chair

The principles of employee-ownership are closely aligned with our own values; putting people first, promoting collective endeavour, and enabling sustainable futures. This EO day, these principles are more essential than ever, as we seek to build back ‘better together’ after the impacts of COVID-19. A recent report by Ownership at Work sets out why putting the principles of employee ownership at the heart of our recovery thinking might be a critical step in the UK’s recovery strategy[i], with employee-ownership promoting resilience, inclusivity and sustainability. As we think about our own return to the office, we believe that our position as an employee-owned business will support our ability to do so, with our employees empowered to make the differences they want to see at Agulhas.

‘Becoming an employee-owned business that shares its profits (and challenges!) across the team feels like a great move for us and a genuine avowal of our company values. It’s exciting to see what new directions and successes the whole team can bring to Agulhas.’

Lauren Pett, Agulhas Director


[i] McDonald, C. (2020) ‘BUILD BACK TOGETHER A recovery that works for everyone’, Ownership at Work

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