Lisa Ballam

Head of Marketing

Embracing the EO Effect - Our Four-Year Journey

Related post categories Culture
3 mins read

This Friday, the 23rd of June, we'll join in celebrating the 11th annual EO Day, which unites employee-owners and advocates of employee ownership from all over the UK. Together, we celebrate and share the significant advantages that employee ownership brings to our businesses and communities.

It's a significant milestone for us at Torchbox as we celebrate four years as an employee-owned agency and our first year of financial freedom. So, it feels right to take a moment to reflect on our journey over the past year and shine a light on the positive impact of employee ownership, perfectly in tune with this year’s EOA theme, #EOEffect.

Torchbox digital marketing team dressed up in 80s gear for Christmas Party 2022

All dressed up in our best 80s clobber for our Christmas party 2022

Nurturing growth

Transitioning to employee ownership in 2019 was a bold new chapter for us. From a team of 60, we've grown to 145 people across five continents! We've changed our organisational structure and leadership teams, transitioning from founder-led to employee-driven. This evolution was acknowledged by the Employee Ownership Association, who honoured us with the Good Leadership Award in September 2022 - which warmed the cockles.

Olly, Lisa and James at the EOA Awards

Me, Olly and James were lucky to be at the EOA Conference to collect our award

This year we’ve directed our focus towards strategic reinvestment into our business. Three key areas where we have made good progress.

  • Our co-owners: We have raised basic pay for all staff and enhanced our bonus packages and benefits. Without shareholders to pay, we're much better placed to stay among the best payers in our sector.
  • Prioritising ethical AI: This year, we've invested in a new AI and Innovation Hub. The innovation fund allows us to explore the potential of AI and LLMs for nonprofits and to participate in the vital ethical debate it has stirred.
  • Making a difference: We are striving to be a better business. A couple of examples: the pilot, first year of the Torchbox Academy has led happily on to a second intake. Our Academy Days have taken place over the last few weeks and we are excited to have some more fabulous applicants join us for year two. And we're proud to have achieved our B Corp Certification this year and to continue our journey towards Net Zero.

Looking ahead

Three key areas we’re focusing on right now to impact our future:

  • With our continued emphasis on AI and Innovation, we are excited by the possibilities that lie ahead. We've developed a range of tools and services to help nonprofits explore the potential that AI can bring to their organisations. It's a dynamic and constantly evolving landscape, and we're committed to sharing our learnings through our AI and Innovation site.
  • Led by Olly, in his new role as Chief People and Sustainability Officer (CPSO), our people team has grown and focused on our learning and development through initiatives including training, a mentoring programme, knowledge sharing with our Spark Talks and our Continuous Professional Development (CPD), to support us all with progressing in our roles. 
  • We’re about to launch a new cultural framework, a reset of our Purpose, Vision, and Values. It’ll give us a clear shared expression of why we come to work, where we are heading as a business and the values that define who we are as co-owners and how we behave. We're excited about this evolution in our story and look forward to presenting it to the whole team in the first week of July.

If you’re an organisation considering a similar path, feel free to reach out with any questions!