At Equal Experts, our culture is built on the principle of mutually beneficial relationships between all our stakeholders, that we value equally.
We welcome people with different perspectives, priorities and routes to success – whether you’re a customer, associate (i.e.: supplier contractor), employee or alumni. This is why we consider ourselves to be not just a consultancy, but also a network that will support people throughout their entire careers – based on what is relevant to them at each stage of their life.
As our organisation grows, we want to maintain and strengthen that proposition. Fifteen years in, we believe it’s the right time to cement this vision for the longer term. This will mean that we can ensure EE remains a place that delivers long-term value over short-term profits.
To achieve this, Ryan Sikorsky and I, as founders and owners, are announcing we will sell the company via an Employee Buyout in 2025. After this, the company will be 100% employee owned.
What does 100% employee-owned mean?
A new legal entity called a Trust will be established that will own the business collectively on behalf of the employees. This is the same well-established ownership model used by the John Lewis Partnership in the UK. The board of directors that will run Equal Experts day to day will be appointed by the Trust.
The Trust will be composed of members drawn from not only the employees but also the associates, alumni and customers – where associates and employees elect directly some members of the Trust. This is because we want the Trust to act for the long-term benefit of all the network’s members and stakeholders. To further protect against short-term thinking, all proceeds of any potential future sale of the business would go to charity.
We believe this new ownership structure will enshrine our vision into the governance of the organisation.
Why not an IPO or trade sale?
Going public means having external shareholders that could prioritise short-term goals and profits over long-term value and relationships. A trade sale would probably mean another brand changing the EE network ethos that’s at the core of our brand, as would private equity.
A management buyout could keep the network but also the status quo, with a few individuals able to decide EE’s fate with little accountability to the rest of the network. Nothing would change for the better.
These options would no doubt maximise shareholder value, but securing the company’s future is more important to Ryan and myself than the sale price.
Why wait until 2025?
The principle behind announcing three years in advance is to make sure that this structural change is well-planned, and executed transparently. It gives us enough time to figure things out.
What about us, the founders?
Ryan and I intend to stay involved in our current roles to shape the transition and continue to lead Equal Experts well beyond that date. We will provide continuity over a 10 year horizon – between the ramp-up to 2025 and the subsequent deferred payment period funded solely on Equal Experts’ future profits.
What happens next?
We don’t have all the answers. There is a lot to decide and plan over the next three years. We are happy to talk to all our stakeholders directly to explain more about what these changes might mean for you. We also really want to hear your perspectives and opinions.
This will be the culmination of a journey we started fifteen years ago. And it is also the beginning of something new for all of us, where we prepare ourselves to hand over Equal Experts to the next generation.