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Fairer Shares - Better Wealth Management

Updated on September 17, 2014
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Stephen Parkin was a Computer Audit Manager for over 30 years with a particular interest in ethics and innovative business ideas.

What Are Fairer Shares?

Somewhat surprisingly the concept has been around for years and the book and source for this lens was written in 1954. The business which was the test of the theory was founded in main by October 1910, it has thrived and been incredibly successful, and yet despite this many of us have never heard of them. how can that be?

The Company to which I refer is the John Lewis Partnership which is unique in concept and execution and remains so to this day. It is the largest chain of Department Stores in the United Kingdom and also owns and runs the Waitrose chain of supermarkets. It was the first store to use the expression "Never knowingly undersold" and mean it.

The structure of the management team and shareholder-ship is quite unique essentially the shares are held on trust for the benefit of the employees. The structure means that the effective ownership is by the employees in proportion to their value to the entity and is calculated based on period of service and seniority. There is equal representation for both sexes and absolutely no religious or political bias tolerated. The Corporate policies are fair and balanced, The whole company is run like a reasonable fair and balanced democracy.

I am writing this lens now having just watched the re-election of Barack Obama and realising that at the highest levels the democracy of the USA is in need of major reform. I was one of the few that correctly called the results of all 51 territories that comprise this great nation. I find it hard to believe that no one in the press nor the Repulican Party were able to do this. it seems they have let their views and desires dominate their thinking (which stinks) to such an extent that the deny what is apparent logical and right in front of their noses. I hope that many of them will make the effort to find a copy of this rare book and read it and absorb its lessons.

Pictures used are either the writers or from the John Lewis Partnership's own publications.

The Philosophy Of Fairer Shares

Fairer Shares, John Spedan Lewis
Fairer Shares, John Spedan Lewis | Source

The Book Fairer Shares

The book that is my favourite non-fiction book (other than the Bible which is way too long and detailed to review on one lens) was written and published in 1954 just two years after I was born. The full title is "FAIRER SHARES a possible advance in civilization and perhaps the only alternative to Communism" it was written by the son of the company founder who was a great academic in his own right and in it he outlines the reasoning and the complex and detailed process of legally structuring a public company in such a way that the true ownership alwayd resides with its employees in a fair and balanced way. John Spedan Lewsi the author was lucky enough to be married to a great lady who was the deputy chairman of the company, and between them they managed the transformation to a partnership and he is the founder of the JOHN LEWIS PARTNERSHIP then (1954) described as a 40-year old experiment in industrial democracy he also authored another book PARTNERSHIP FOR ALL (1948). This experiment is still thriving and is now 98 years old!

All rights in the books have been given to the \partnership and enquiries should be addressed to the General Secretary of the John Lewis Partnership at 13, Holles Street, London W1A !EX United Kingdom.

Partnership Structure Chart

John Lewis Structure 1954
John Lewis Structure 1954 | Source

The Business Structure

This was the structure of the John Lewis Partnership in 1954 and is still essentially the structure today 2012 so the "experiment" is now over 98 years old and still going strong. The chart starts with the words Sovereign Authority is intended to be in THE PARTNERSHIP'S PUBLIC OPINION informed developed and expressed by, the following three boxes JOURNALISM directed by THE GENERAL EDITOR, REPRESENTATIVE INSTITUTIONS, and PERSONAL CONTACTS. It is to operate through THE CONSTITUTION embodied in Two Irrevocable Settlements in Trust (changeable only with the consent of a Court of Law) and Articles (changeable only with the joint consent of the Council and the Chief Executive). By the means of A CENTRAL BOARD of 12 Directors operating the Partnership's system of budgetary control, THE PRINCIPAL MANAGEMENT consisting of THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE, A CENTRAL COUNCIL of at present 113 members with unlimited rights of discussion and recommendation and with substantial independent spending power all of WHO with the assistance of THE PARTNERSHIP'S CRITICAL SIDE consisting of THE GENERAL INSPECTOR, THE CHIEF REGISTRAR, THE INTERNAL AUDITOR, THE FINANCIAL ADVISER, THE PARTNERS' COUNSELLOR operates within the budgetary control of THE PARTNERSHIP'S EXECUTIVE SI(DE consisting of THE DIRECTOR OF MAINTENANCE AND EXPANSION, THE DIRECTOR OF FINANCIAL OPERATIONS, and THE TWO DIRECTORS OF PERSONNEL ONE FOR MEN AND ONE FOR WOMEN.

The NOTE: A PRINCIPAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE consisting of the heads of the Critical and Executive Sides and the holders of certain other posts has large powers but only so far as its members are unanimous. Otherwise the matter goes up to the Chief Executive.

The book is a remarkable document as it set down the principals and the text of the Two irrevocable trusts and made recommendations as to the management of the entire organisation. What is more remarkable at least to me is that this system has never been copied despite its apparent total success.

The book is quite brilliant as was the author as it enshrines the true principals of a system of fair management that allows and encourages full participation by all employees it is a treatise in better governance and totally fair treatment of all the participants. As the author stated perhaps the only alternative to Communism.

Here is the Partnerships current take on their founder About Our Founder

So lets see where this system has taken them:-

The Current Stores Within The Partnership




Brent Cross, London






Cribbs Causeway





High Wycombe





London tourists

Milton Keynes





Oxford Street, London

Peter Jones, Sloane Sq








Stratford City




Tunbridge Wells



As well as this there is also the Waitrose chain of Supermarkets Waitrose Supermarket Finder

Brownsea Castle Nature Reserve

Brownsea Castle
Brownsea Castle

The Partnership Has Some Other Special Attributes Too

Not only does the Partnership have "Fairer Shares" for the staff it also follows the principals of Fair Trade with all of its suppliers and trading partners. They own farms for meat production etc. and have excellent staff recreation facilities too as well as sponsoring the arts such as Glyndebourne Opera and produce many fine sailors, they own and maintain Brownsea Castle in Poole harbour as a vacation facility for their Partners. I can honestly state that they are a great company to work for.

Brownsea Castle is leased from the National Trust, who own Brownsea Island, by the John Lewis Partnership, whose members use it for holidays.

Produced and photographed by S Seiger.

Printed by Dolphin Printers (Poole) Dorset.

Postally unused (c.1984).

Amazon May Have This Book Available! - If Not Try eBay Below

The book is available on the second hand market or direct from the Partnership's Head Office, but it is quite rare despite being a definite improvement on the generally accepted capitalism model that gives all the wealth to the greediest strongest bully out there. This is what has created the worst kind of capitalists that now own 80% of all the world's wealth amongst the 0.01% of the population they represent. If John Spedan Lewis's model were adopted the wealth would stay with the people who really created it and would not all go to the biggest bully. It is interesting that there are hardly any women among the world''s truly wealthy. They are just not mentally attuned to being that ruthless!

Fairer Shares: A Possible Advance in Civilisation and Perhaps the Only Alternative to Communism
Fairer Shares: A Possible Advance in Civilisation and Perhaps the Only Alternative to Communism

This Book is perhaps the only effective system for fair distribution of wealth and possibly the only one that can save us from the current predominance of Bullies, greed and avarice!


Fairer Shares On eBay

This is a rare book but sometimes it is available on eBay.c If not contact John Lewis directly if you want a copy.

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Any Comment About How The Partnership Principles May Help Today's World?

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  • Dressage Husband profile imageAUTHOR

    Stephen J Parkin 

    5 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

    @gaser983: Thank you, but really thank John Spedan Lewis!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Great lens, well done


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