In summer 2018, the Castle made a bold decision: to become an employee owned business. Today, on EO Day 2019, we celebrate being just over a year into the process, share how far we’ve come on the journey and what’s yet to come.
How’d it all start?
In 2018, the Employees Benefit Trust (EBT) was established by Steve Taylor, the Chairman of the Castle. This decision fits in with our long-standing commitment to sustainability and longevity as a business – both environmentally and socially. In its first year, the EBT has focussed on staff welfare, progressing upgrades to the staff room, setting up a hardship fund for those who find themselves in need, and representing staff interests at board meetings. At the end of 2019, they will be distributing dividends from the shares that the EBT hold within the company.
How Does It Work?
Currently, the EBT has a 2% share. The Castle gifted the funds to allow the EBT to buy this initial 2% share from existing shareholders. This has allowed the EBT to begin its work. We’re starting this process slow and steady, but each year more and more shares will be bought by the EBT. The goal is that this figure will to rise to 30% employee ownership.
The EBT gathers staff opinions regularly, from surveys to the trustees engaging with staff regularly, to ensure they’re acting in the interests of the majority of employees.
Who is it?
Currently the Employee Benefit Trust is managed by six trustees who are all Castle employees: Julie Hiam, Tom Larkin, Ben Levey, Lucas Perry-Hill, Victoria Power and Steve Taylor, the Chairman of the Castle. Julie Hiam is the EBT Director on the main Castle board, and the first elected representative to sit on the board.
Employee Trustees will generally be elected by the Castle staff and re-elections will occur every 2 years.
What’s the point?
The purpose of the Trust is to ensure that the people who make the Castle great, whose hard work ensures its success, get to share the benefits. It puts the staff and the people front and centre, protecting and promoting their interests. Ultimately, it preserves the ethos that the company was built on and ensures a positive legacy for everyone who contributes. Through the trust, everyone who works here knows they have a stake in the company – they are all owners!
“I believe that staff who feel appreciated and listened to, and truly part of an organisation, will care for and sustain the business in the face of inevitable challenges and change. Castle staff are a diverse and wonderful cohort and I am convinced that we can learn so much and create an even better, stronger, sustainable business and community if we continue to reach out to all of those around us. I am committed and motivated to work with other Board members, Trustees and staff to this end by communicating and engaging with all stakeholders. I believe that my work as an instructor, duty manager and EBT Trustee allows me to build on good relationships with Board Members, customers and staff, old and new, and therefore be a good sounding board and listening ear as we move forward.”
– Julie Hiam, EBT Director (elected)