The John Lewis Partnership Constitution
The first Constitution was published in 1928. Not many companies have a written constitution. The Partnership exists today because of the extraordinary vision and ideals of its founder, John Spedan Lewis. He believed that an “industrial democracy,” where employees shared knowledge, power and profit, was a better form of business. This vision was set out in a written Constitution – a framework to define the Partnership’s principles and the way it should operate. The Constitution has been revised on a number of occasions since then, in order to adapt to meet the modern demands of business. Each new edition is a direct connection to Spedan’s original inspiration – it defines what we are.
The challenge for Partners today is to prove that a business which is not driven by the demands of outside shareholders, and which sets high standards of behaviour, can flourish in the competitive conditions facing a modern retailing business. The Constitution provides the Principles and Rules within which we aim to demonstrate through Partners, customers and profit, that we are a better form of business. Our Council represents the views of all our Partners, for whom the business is owned in trust. Combined with the role of the Chairman and the Partnership Board, our three governing authorities are not motivated by short-term profits, but instead are able to take a long-term view, maintaining our financial independence, developing our business and nurturing our distinctive co-ownership model.
The Constitution is divided into Principles, Rules, Partners’ Rights and Responsibilities, Responsibilities to Others. It is subordinate to, and must not conflict with, the two Settlements in Trust made by John Spedan Lewis in 1929 and 1950.