Emperor Foundation
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Emperor foundation

Responsible business
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Responsible business

Emerging Talent
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Emerging Talent

A testament to our commitment to being a people-powered business, Emperor's four-year journey into employee ownership (EO) is so much more than a numerical milestone. 

In 2020, we handed over the business to those who've contributed to our success—our partners. This bold move secured our independence and fortified our vibrant and sustainable organisational culture. In the run up to our fourth anniversary of EO, we gathered our partners for a conversation about what it truly means to them. 
Let's explore our journey, and the importance of listening to our partners' voices. 

Wearing two hats

Being employee-owned is like wearing two hats: the owner's hat and the employee's hat. By donning both, we collectively drive the business forward. It's a shared journey where everyone benefits from our joint efforts and stands together during challenging times.  
This means more of our people have a greater understanding of how business works and are in turn more knowledgeable about the challenges and opportunities faced by our clients.

Preserving independence

EO wasn't just a strategic move; it was a conscious effort to safeguard our independence and creative autonomy. Every partner now has a voice in decision-making, fostering pride, accountability, and transparency.

Cultivating a unique culture

The transition to an employee-owned model at Emperor reflects – and reinforces – our culture of collaboration and transparency. Our partners' voices are an integral part of our creative tapestry, contributing to an environment where innovative ideas can thrive. A shared sense of ownership fuels engagement, motivation, and investment in our long-term success.

B Corp certification and living our values

Emperor's commitment to corporate responsibility goes beyond structure, to the way we engage with each other. B Corp certification in 2022 underscores our dedication to rigorous standards of social and environmental responsibility. Our pledges, driven by our partners, guide our behaviour, care for our wellbeing, and shape our culture

Challenges and lessons learned

Although the journey of employee ownership at Emperor has been largely successful, it hasn't been without its challenges. Navigating the complexities of shared ownership, decision-making processes, and financial transparency require concerted effort and adaptability. Strong leadership is essential to ensure we are all clear about our direction.

Since becoming employee owned, we’ve navigated a pandemic, political and economic unrest; and internally we’ve seen a change of leadership as Vic and Cam took on a joint CEO role, succeeding Steve Kemp. We’ve also grown significantly; our commitment to open dialogue and listening to partners has helped us address any challenges head-on, learn, and continually refine our approach.

Looking ahead

As Emperor celebrates four years of being employee-owned, we stand at the forefront of a movement that values listening, two-way communication, and transparency in fostering a thriving work culture.

The recent Knowledge Programme Report from the Employee Ownership Association aligns with this, showcasing significant contributions to local communities, job creation, and environmental sustainability.

Amy Hancock, Junior Designer and Partner at Emperor said: ''The Partner Voice sessions have created a unique safe space where, whatever your role or location, your voice can be heard. As a Junior Designer, it’s given me the opportunity to engage in important conversations happening throughout Emperor, whether that’s been actively sharing my opinions, or simply listening to others and gaining a greater understanding of my colleagues different perspectives.''

Steve Kemp, Founder and Partner at Emperor said: ''I can't believe its four years since we became employee owned. Our decision was all about ensuring that Emperor has a successful and sustainable future, that we remain agile, people focused and that we preserve our great culture. And what a four years its been after celebrating this important milestone. We've gone into and come out of a global pandemic, had to adapt to new and different ways of working, changed leadership and are now, like many other businesses in the UK, facing the challenges of hybrid work in a slowing economy. Being employee owned doesn't guarantee financial success, and we haven't shirked from making tough decisions. We will continue to drive positive change and as with all change, this may be unsettling for some. But being employee owned means that our fabulous partners will always be Emperor's main stakeholders, and will always have an important voice in driving our future success.''

Employee ownership, coupled with our B Corp certification and pledges to each other and society, makes Emperor an exceptional space for our best work.

We are immensely proud of this milestone and grateful to our partners who make it all possible. Here's to a future of empowerment and shared success!