Public sector digital agency dxw becomes employee-owned

dxw is one of the first UK public sector digital agencies to become employee-owned, in a bid to support its mission of boosting digital public services

Posted 29 September 2021 by Christine Horton

Public sector-focused digital agency dxw has announced it is now employee-owned.

The firm, which designs, builds and runs digital public services, says an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) has acquired a majority of the shares for and on behalf of the staff.

dxw employs approximately 80 people across its Leeds and London offices together with a network of specialist contractors. The company works with central government departments, local authorities, housing associations, the healthcare sector and charities, to create public services that improve lives.

dxw founder Harry Metcalfe and the firm’s directors say they decided to transition to employee ownership when they considered how best to protect the agency’s values and culture while continuing to grow.

The move comes as an increasing number of dxw’s competitors are being bought up by larger companies or groups. 

“We have a long-standing public service ethos and establishing this ownership structure will allow dxw to retain its independence and integrity,” said Metcalfe.

“Placing ownership in the hands of a diverse group of people with the right expertise and values-driven commitment will support the company’s future growth and enable it to make more impact for the people and organisations we’re here to help. Transferring ownership in this way also gives formal recognition to the collaborative environment dxw has created and the fact that our success is down to the team.” 

Giving employees a stake

The employee trust will be led by a board of trustees chaired by Metcalfe. Two external trustees will bring outside expertise, with two employee trustees representing the views of staff. The company says the trust will be bound by its establishing documents to hold the company accountable to its mission and values, and to work in the interests of the users of the services it helps to build.

The current leadership team will remain in place and form the new dxw Board. The directors will work alongside the Trust to guide the business strategy and growth. Through the Board of Trustees dxw’s employees will have greater involvement in shaping the future direction of the agency. 

“We feel this is a logical next step in our evolution and gives the people who work at dxw – our greatest asset – a real stake in the company,” said Dave Mann, managing director at dxw.

“At a time when SMEs working in the public sector are facing increasing competition from larger and more established players, we think that collective ownership gives us the best possible platform to grow and thrive in the years ahead. By retaining our independence we’re able to provide an environment for people who are passionate about delivering user-focused services for the public and third sectors and creating profit for social value.”