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. They believed that labour should employ capital, acknowledging everyone as equals and in 1951 the Scott Bader Commonwealth was founded on Quaker Principles:
- 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;
- the development of individuals (to achieve their full potential);
- leading by example and resolving conflicts non-violently through dialogue.
These principles changed the fundamental structure of the company and shared the responsibility for its long term future with its workforce – a self-governing structure. 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).
As Scott Bader has no external shareholders it cannot be taken over, so there is stability and long-term planning. As trustees-in-common, employees have the responsibility of ownership which creates greater commitment and engagement to ensure ongoing success, and drives active involvement. With a strong commitment to support the workforce, society and the environment, social responsibility was made a key part of the company culture by Ernest Bader long before the term was popularised.
As far back as the early 1950s, Ernest Bader was promoting the idea of optimising the use of natural resources in manufacturing products.
Most of the raw materials used are produced from crude oil using conventional petrochemical processes, but SB is working with its suppliers to secure raw materials from more environmental friendly processes using non crude oil or ‘Green/Bio’ feed materials and environmental friendly processes. As these processes become available these materials will be evaluated so that suppliers can form a successful commercial partnership in the use of these materials in the company’s processes. They continually seek to source raw materials where possible from environmentally friendly and natural sources.
Life President Godric Bader encourages the work of the Sustainability Team which regularly reports back to the Group Executive Team on their progress. And R&D projects and collaborations are routinely assessed against a set of criteria so that they can be ranked in terms of sustainability. Products for metal replacement are sought; these can reduce weight e.g. for rail rolling stock, saving fuel and transport costs.
In addition to other sponsorships (see website), the company’s constitution requires it to donate a minimum of 1% of the group salary bill to the Commonwealth Global Charity Fund each year. £176,000 was donated in 2013 from 2012 group profits.