Six of our employee-owners, three of them elected representatives on our Shareholder Impact Board (SIB), had a hugely enjoyable time at Liverpool’s ACC for the National Employee Ownership Conference in October 2022. They attended a range of insightful presentations and workshops delivered by others equally passionate about employee-ownership and engaged in some inspiring conversations with other EO businesses.

Smile Together became an employee-owned community interest company in 2016 to give our employees, as shareholders, a genuine voice in the business and its future development. We’ve positively thrived together in this environment, delivering our patient care to those who need us most across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and reinvesting 100% of our profits back into patient facilities and local communities.

Kerry Bloxham, Finance Assistant and SIB representative, who attended the conference said: “It was a long way to travel but so worthwhile. Not only was it a really great opportunity to connect, learn and celebrate all things employee owned but it was good team building time too and we were grateful for the chance to attend together”.

As an employee-owned company we often share our EO journey and experiences along the way, and it’s equally valuable to learn from other EO businesses. A particular highlight at the conference was hearing John Vary, Futurologist for John Lewis, talking about planning for the future, how to keep your EO business thriving and how to actively engage and inspire your team through thinking differently.

Rhona Maclean, Location Manager and elected SIB representative, who attended a conference case study presentation from Shaun Imrie from Shawston International said: “This insight, along with that of the many other speakers and delegates I met at the conference, showed how each employee-owned business is different from the next. But they all start the same way – with their people. All these businesses want their employees to be at the forefront of what they do and who they are.”

Other inspiring presenters included Natasha Connolly and Kathryn Hall from Arup who acted as sustainability consultants for the UK Government for COP26 and the G7 Summit, Phillipa Meaden of J Gadd Associates who have a wealth of experience to share from providing commercial, cultural and engagement services to the Employee Ownership sector and Cohere‘s Daniel Stanley who discussed using employee ownership to attract and retain people.

As you can see the team had a fabulous time – alongside the conference proceedings other highlights included the dinner, having a go on a Segway, and making lush bath bombs!

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