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100 years

The true significance of the Scott Bader Commonwealth

This year not only celebrates 100 years of Scott Bader but also an amazing 70 years of being a Commonwealth. 

Our founder, Ernest Bader was never comfortable with a capitalist governance structure. As Quakers, Ernest and his family believed that ethical and moral action to improve this world was vital. He wanted to find a way to distribute the capital of the company in a way where all employees could have a ‘real’ say in the company and be acknowledged as equals.

In 1951 a radical decision was made resulting in Scott Bader & Co Ltd being given as a ‘free gift’ to the newly created Scott Bader Commonwealth Ltd, a charitable trust wholly-owned and controlled by the workforce. Founded on Quaker Principles, the Commonwealth sets out to achieve:

  • The development of individuals to achieve their full potential
  • Equal opportunities and workplace benefits available to all
  • Involvement and participation giving everyone a voice
  • The chance to be involved in social and community activities
  • Responsibility for one’s own actions
  • Leading by example and resolving conflicts non-violently through dialogue

These principles changed the fundamental structure of the company and shared out the responsibility for its long-term future to its workforce. It is a prime example of how a business can be run differently – and very successfully.

“Having observed the paralysis and often the complete failure of so many human institutions in the conduct of vital human affairs – witness the record of the political parties, the churches, the employers’ organisations, the trade unions – one is led to the inescapable conclusion that, in industrial disputes at least, it is the system that is at the root of the trouble, that the division between capital and labour encourages selfishness and greed and that until the two are united for a common purpose there will be no peace.

This was my belief when, in 1951, I relinquished ownership of the business I had built up since arriving in this country in 1912, and thereby showed my faith in the basic goodness of human beings when they are made to feel equal and vital partners in a business.”

Ernest Bader