It’s Time to Put Employee Ownership on the Inclusiveness Agenda
American workers need space and freedom to experiment
We are told that we live in an age of tribalism, when political and cultural allegiances shape our view of the world. But there is at least one thing that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all agree on: they would all rather work in an employee-owned firm than some other kind of enterprise. “Americans disagree about a lot of things, but this is not one of them,” said Professor Joseph Blasi, Director of the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing. “Democrat or Republican, female or male, black or white, union or non-union, a majority of respondents said they prefer to work for a company with employee share ownership.”
Once you know the facts, however, it’s not surprising. Whether you’re talking about profit-sharing schemes, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), or employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs), employee ownership is close to an unalloyed good and the only surprise is that we haven’t made more of a push to promote it. For any policy maker seeking to address growing inequality, racial wealth disparities, simmering discontent with free markets, or the looming retirement challenge, expanding employee ownership should be a priority.
What’s So Great About Employee Ownership?
The bipartisan preference for employee ownership is easy to understand. “Studies measuring the benefits of various types of broad-based sharing programs find that workers’ wages are significantly higher when compared with those of workers in similar companies without sharing programs,” concludes the left-leaning Center for American Progress, which is calling for local, state, and federal action to revitalize the employee ownership agenda. And according to a 2017 study by the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO), employee owners’ household wealth is 92 percent higher than peers who don’t work for employee-owned firms, with more generous fringe benefits. They are more than four times as likely to have company-provided or company-subsidized childcare, and more than twice as likely to have paid parental leave. More than half of employee owners have a flexible work schedule, compared to just 34 percent of non-employee owners.
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