Scott Bader was founded in 1921 and conventionally managed for 30 years. However, Ernest Bader, the founder, was never comfortable with a capitalist governance structure. Having become Quakers, Ernest and his family believed that ethical and moral action to improve this world was vital. For many years they sought a ‘third way’ of distributing the capital of the company in a less divisive manner and a method by which all employees could have a ‘real’ say in the company. They believed that labour should employ capital, acknowledging the equality of everyone as individuals and that only a restructuring of the way industry was managed would bring this about.
In 1951 a radical decision was made resulting in the creation of The Scott Bader Commonwealth, which was founded on Quaker Principles.
Links to these principles are at the core of Scott Bader and include:- the development of individuals (to achieve their full potential); equal opportunities (workplace benefits available to everyone); involvement and participation (everyone having a voice); the chance to be involved in social/ 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, while also being successful.
Ernest Bader’s socio-economic vision
The Commonwealth was “founded on the belief that a socially responsible undertaking cannot exist merely in its own interests. It is part of the whole national and international community and as such it has responsibilities which extend far beyond its factory walls”. Common-ownership or ‘trusteeship’ was conceived “as an alternative to a war-based capitalist economy on the one hand and to communism on the other”.
The founders envisaged a “leadership founded on approval rather than dictation”; and a turning away from “participation in industrial strife and international war; and a refusal to take an active part in re-armament” (Preamble to the Constitution – April 1951).
The ambition was “to provide an opportunity for the full development of us all, both materially and spiritually”. “Mutual responsibility must permeate the whole community of work and be upheld by democratic participation and the principle of trusteeship” (Foreword to the revised Constitution – March 1963).
The companies in the Scott Bader Group are the means to fulfil the vision and to show that business can make the world a better place.
In 2014, The Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award 2014 was jointly awarded to Godric Bader, Life President of Scott Bader, and to the Scott Bader Commonwealth for the better business model created by him and his family, which continues today as a cornerstone of the Scott Bader Group globally.