Member profile: Elaine Graham of Zedra

Elaine Graham is a director and head of employer solutions at Zedra.

In what ways does employee share ownership serve a useful purpose?

It has many useful purposes but to highlight a few, I would include the alignment of the goals of a company and its employee base. Employees feel that by owning a part of the company they are motivated to add value to it through their endeavours. Sharing in the financial success of a company compounds this effect.

How can we widen and deepen the adoption and use of employee share ownership?

Making the set up and implementation of share plans more accessible for all companies. More publicity for those companies who have employee ownership success stories not just within the share plan community but in wider press and news outlets including case studies as to how employee ownership contributes to the long-term success of a company.

An ability for employees to obtain non-recourse more available finance to invest in the companies they work for if free shares or related buy in too expensive.

What would you tell someone on the fence about introducing employee share ownership to their company?

With some case studies of real life success stories!

What do you think will change about employee share ownership over the next five years?

There will be a stronger push to create longer term ownership in companies to create a more sustainable model for British business less focused on flipping value on multiple sale events.

What has been the most important development in employee share ownership during your career?

The changes around disguised remuneration that meant a rocky road for a period of time for any share plan with a tax advantage and some difficult exemptions to navigate.

Which change to employee share plans legislation, in the UK or elsewhere, would you most like to see?

An ability to implement plans and related structures without uncertainty on approval or acceptance from HMRC etc. Cost is often a consideration for companies but education is key to demonstrate the value introducing share ownership will bring.

Why do you think employee share ownership has enjoyed cross-party support in the UK?

The ethos of owning a part of a company is a British value and promoting ways to create a more sustainable longer term business model. There is a constant challenge for British businesses to compete with foreign markets in terms of product and investment and investing in companies at grassroots in the UK is key to sustaining and creating British success.

Which aspect of the Esop Centre do you most value?

Being a voice for employee ownership and influencing, lobbying government on its key issues / benefits. Bringing together varying views from the share plan industry to discuss these issues and the various challenges.

Which aspect of the Esop Centre would you most like to change?

Not so much of a change to the Esop Centre but how do we get more recognition and support for the work it carries out…

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Spending quality time with my two young children, husband and friends on my favourite beach in Guernsey (L’Eree on the west coast by the way!) on a sunny summer’s day at high tide watching the sunset with a glass!

What is your most marked characteristic?

Determination!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Apart from my children (of course!), building and working with a fantastic employer solutions team at Zedra, completing various triathlons and endurance events and winning Citywealth Magic Circle Awards Women of the Year 2017.

What historical figure do you most identify with?

Amelia Earhart – a pioneer for women to this day where no achievement should be considered off limits.

Which living person do you most admire?

Malala Yousafazi – astonishing bravery and maturity for such a young activist.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Those who tirelessly work within communities close to home or far away making lives better for those that are less privileged than the rest of us and highlighting injustices whatever they may be.

Which word or phrases do you most overuse?

That’s grand – an Irish expression to denote everything is all good!

What is your most treasured possession?

Time, when I have some of it spare!

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