Capita Makes Novel U.K. Move Putting Employees on Board

(Bloomberg) -- Outsourcing group Capita Plc has become the first major U.K. company to appoint worker directors to its main board in 30 years, fulfilling an aspiration voiced by Prime Minister Theresa May when she first came to office.

While May never followed through her idea of worker participation on boards with legislation, Capita on its own has appointed two of its employees, Lyndsay Browne and Joseph Murphy, to its board. They will receive compensation of 64,500 pounds ($83,500) a year on top of their current salary.

The last worker to be appointed to a major U.K. public company board was at First Group, where train driver Mick Barker joined the boardroom in 1989.

Browne is a chartered accountant who has been at Capita since 2003 and Murphy is a chartered civil engineer. The new board members beat competition from around 400 other internal candidates.

“We were determined that the perspective of employees and increased diversity of thought were represented at board level,” Ian Powell, the chairman of Capita, said in a statement.

U.K. companies should follow Capita’s example so that workers have more say in decision-making, said Carys Roberts, chief economist at the IPPR, a think tank.

Putting workers on boards “is far from being a panacea, but it is a useful antidote to the current poisonous sense of distrust and malaise hanging over many of our big companies,” Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrat party, wrote in an opinion piece in City A.M.

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