top of page

Mini-cast 102: Where is EO? White Nationalists, etc.

Bret Keisling envisions an EO movement that comes together to denounce White nationalists and their allies as contrary to the core tenets of employee ownership.


Mini-cast 102 Transcript

Bret Keisling: Hello, my friends, welcome to The ESOP Mini-cast. Thanks for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: I've done a number of podcasts this year, which you can find in our archives at, discussing my disappointment that political candidates will talk about issues that are squarely addressed by employee ownership but EO is pretty much absent from the public discussion.

Bret Keisling: On our primary ESOP Podcast, which comes out on Tuesdays, we're in the midst of a multi-part series called "Where is EO?" My premise is that EO can't be considered a movement because we're missing from both political discussions and as consumers, et cetera. To make a very long story short, we've come to learn that the core values of employee ownership when instilled at the workplace does many things, among them addressing wage inequality, be it gender or race, inclusiveness, and in the best cases, a true sense that all of the team members are in this together working for a common purpose. Employee ownership has also created an awful lot of shareholders. That's just good capitalism. We also know irrefutably that our communities are made stronger by employee ownership through a more stable tax base and related items, because employee owned companies are much more likely to avoid layoffs and economic downturns and to not sell the business to companies that would then move operations or consolidate jobs, et cetera, things that would ultimately decimate the community.

Bret Keisling: Earlier this week, I watched the presidential debate, hoping the candidates would touch upon issues important to employee ownership. I thought there was nothing. No doubt, you either watched or listened to the debate or you've heard about it and it wasn't pretty. I thought there was absolutely nothing relevant in the debate to employee ownership. And then in the last day or two, I've been thinking about the series, "Where is EO?" I realized that something was said at the debate that is extremely relevant to everything employee ownership hopes to accomplish in this country. It's an exchange you've no doubt heard about where President Trump was asked to repudiate white supremacists. Here's a brief clip from the debate:


Chris Wallace: You have repeatedly criticized the [former] vice president for not specifically calling out Antifa and other left-wing extremist groups -

Donald Trump: That’s right.

Chris Wallace: But are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacist and militia groups –

Donald Trump: Sure.

Chris Wallace: – and to say that need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities, as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland?

Donald Trump: Sure, I’m willing to do that –

Chris Wallace: Are you prepared to specifically –

Joe Biden: Do it.

Chris Wallace: Well, go ahead, sir.

Donald Trump: I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing.

Chris Wallace: So what are you saying –

Donald Trump: I’m willing to do anything – I want to see peace.

Chris Wallace: Well, then, do it, sir.

Joe Biden: Say it. Do it. Say it.

Donald Trump: You want to call them – what do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name.

Chris Wallace: White supremacists and –

Donald Trump: Go ahead. Who would you like me to condemn? Who?

Joe Biden: [Overlapping speech.] White supremacists. The Proud Boys.

Chris Wallace: [Overlapping speech]. White supremacists and right-wing militia.

Donald Trump: [Overlapping speech]. Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.


Bret Keisling: It's impossible to overstate what an ugly political environment we're going through right now. Everybody argues about everything and now days after the debate, there's an intense argument about what the President actually said or what he meant.

Bret Keisling: I'm not going to get into any of that. I'm simply going to look at the entire situation from company culture and communication perspectives, if you will. It doesn't matter what anybody else in the country believes what President Trump meant. What's important and is clear on social media is that the Proud Boys themselves believe the President has given them a full throated endorsement. That's what's important.

Bret Keisling: It's been tough for me to get a handle on how to describe the Proud Boys for this podcast. On the one hand, we don't want to inflame, on the other hand, even the description of the group is under dispute. They've been described as a far-right organization, I think everybody agrees with that. They have been described as a nationalist organization. There are debates about whether they're white nationalists, but they are all aligned with white supremacist, white nationalist groups. So to some extent they may not be white supremacists themselves, but if they are marching into an area with guns and they're marching with white supremacists members of the clan, et cetera, et cetera, that's a distinction; they don't need to be white supremacists, people got that covered. There's nothing more contrary to the core values of employee ownership than what the Proud Boys stand for.

Bret Keisling: Let me tie this back to “Where is EO?” As I'm talking about on the main podcast, employee ownership is many things, but it's not yet a movement. Yet. There's probably a chicken or the egg kind of question about whether EO would become a movement if it were part of the public discussion, or by truly becoming a movement will it therefore have a voice in the issues of the day?

Bret Keisling: In my dream world of an EO movement in the last couple of days, all of the major EO organizations, and the minor ones, would have come together and issued an unequivocal statement, denouncing the president's refusal to repudiate white nationalists. Imagine a statement, very short and sweet. Something like this: The employee ownership community stands together to condemn white nationalists and their allies who actively work against our core values of inclusiveness, diversity, and making our companies and communities better for everyone. We call on all elected officials to immediately, strongly, and unequivocally condemn these organizations.

Bret Keisling: Imagine if all of the major and minor EO organizations came together and issued that joint statement and also had it signed onto by all of its member companies and employee owners. It would send a strong message about employee ownership and its core values, and it would make everybody from elected officials to the average citizen, take notice of the employee ownership movement.

Bret Keisling: It's not going to happen, at least certainly not in this election cycle, but a passionate advocate can dream, can't he?

Bret Keisling: Please join me next Tuesday for another episode on our primary podcast of where is he? Oh, and check out the last couple in our archives.

Bret Keisling: Folks, thank you so much for listening. There's an awful lot going on in our country right now, take care of yourself and those around you. We're going through this together and that's how we're going to get through it: together. Which if you think about it is exactly what employee ownership is all about. This is Bret Keisling have a great day.

Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: The transcript of this episode was produced by Temi, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The ESOP Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


bottom of page