It is a significant move away form the traditional partner-owned structure for the mid-tier firm.
In theory it means that all of its 4,500 employees will have a say and a stake in how the firm is run. The specifics of how the shared enterprise is implemented will be confirmed during the forthcoming consultation.
According to Grant Thornton, 99% of the company’s 185 partners backed the proposal by the leadership team, led by CEO-elect Sacha Romanovitch with the backing of its oversight board.
Romanovitch, 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.
Romanovitch says that businesses with shared ownership structures “significantly outperform” other businesses. She used the example that if you had invested £100 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 consultation will focus on three specific proposals; shared ideas (including crowdsourcing the business plan), shared responsibility (including employee representatives on its oversight board), and opening up profits to all employees.
In recent years the government has employed tax breaks and other incentives to encourage the employee ownership economy, the most high profile of which is the John Lewis Partnership.