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Mini-cast 157: New in the EO Sandbox!

Bret Keisling celebrates Employee Ownership Month by describing three new endeavors: Ownership America, dedicated to public policy and grassroots advocacy; EO Equals, which was featured in Episode 170 of The EsOp Podcast; and our very own EO Podcast Network.


Mini-cast 157 Transcript

[00:00:00] Bret Keisling: Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling, and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. Happy Employee Ownership Month! As usual, I've really enjoyed following all of the activity on social media as companies, organizations, advocates, and advisors share success stories, congratulations, and the many ways in which Employee Ownership Month is celebrated.

Everyone in employee ownership knows what a special space we're in, and I'm glad there's an opportunity where everyone in the community can celebrate each other's successes. In addition to all of the very appropriate focus on the employee owners themselves, I think Employee Ownership Month 2021 may be remembered for some new entries into the EO sandbox.

I'm very proud that my team's efforts are part of the new. I'm talking, of course, about the brand-new EO Podcast Network that we launched at the start of Employee Ownership Month. In addition to The EsOp Podcast and ESOP Mini-cast, which you're listening to right now, I'm very proud that we've added the Owner to Owner podcast and the Why Worker Co-op podcast to our family.

Owner to Owner is hosted by Jesse Tyler and features candid conversations with frontline rank and file essential employee owners; the ones who make the product, deliver the product, and service the many products that make our economy what it is.

The Why Worker Co-ops podcast, hosted by Rodney North, features interviews and conversations with leaders in the worker cooperative movement. Each episode focuses on the different answers to the question, "why worker co-ops?" You can find links to all of our podcasts at

Employee Ownership Month also saw the launch of EO Equals, an exciting new campaign created and produced by The Kendeda Fund in partnership with ICA Group, Project Equity, Nexus Community Partners, and The Fund for Employee Ownership at Evergreen Cooperatives. This online and social media campaign is directed squarely at business owners to educate and encourage them about the advantages of selling their businesses to employee owners. I'm grateful that Diane Ives of The Kendeda Fund and Alison Lingane of Project Equity joined me on Episode 170 of The EO Podcast to tell us all about EO Equals and I hope you'll check out that episode, if you haven't already.

Finally, this week we saw the launch of Ownership America, an exciting new organization that is dedicated to promoting policies that support and encourage the growth of employee ownership in the United States. According to its website, which you can find at, 9% of the private sector in the United States is employee owned. Their goal is to increase that to 20 to 30%. They propose to do that through grassroots advocacy and applied policy initiatives. I think what's most exciting for me to see about the organization so far is the breadth and depth of policy initiatives that they propose. They include the Employee Equity Investment Act, which was formerly known as the Employee Equity Loan Act, a federal loan guarantee proposal to grow and sustain employee ownership. They propose tax incentives and reforms to opportunity zones. They propose making government benefits enjoyed by corporations contingent on some broad-based form of equity sharing. They call for support for employee stock purchase plans in publicly traded companies. And they also call for an exploration of private sector initiatives, such as revolving loan programs.

These proposals are comprehensive, ambitious, and would certainly do a lot to jumpstart employee ownership in the United States. As I've shared many times on the podcast and discussed with a number of our guests, employee ownership is stagnant in the United States. We've decreased a little bit each year in recent years, and we're actually down about 18% in the number of ESOPs since 1996. And the reality is for all the efforts of everybody in the EO sandbox, including mine, we're really not going to make progress without significant legislative support and an increase in public awareness.

There's so much more that we could talk about Ownership America, including who was involved in its founding, and board members, et cetera. But in order to keep the Mini-cast short, just know, we'll reach out to Ownership America and invite someone from there to come on and tell us about them themselves.

We are going to include some links in our show notes, including the very first publication of Ownership America that's a comprehensive look at employee ownership as well as what they plan to do. So, we hope you'll check that out.

In the three new endeavors that I've talked about in the Mini-cast, I believe it shows a blueprint for how we can all turn employee ownership into a movement. Ownership America, along with other organizations, can do tremendously important work shaping public policy. EO Equals and similar campaigns are so critical to increasing awareness among targeted audiences, including business owners, professional advisors, and community activists.

And while some folks are working on policy and other folks are working on promotion, my podcast colleagues, Jesse Tyler and Rodney North, and me and my entire team at The EsOp Podcast and EO Podcast Network, we're going to do our part and that's talking about what everyone else is doing.

With that, I'll wrap it up for today. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.


[00:05:31]Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook at EO Podcast Network and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. This podcast has been produced by Bret Keisling for the EO Podcast Network, production assistance by Victoria Huerta, original music composed by Max Keisling, branding and marketing by BitsyPlus Design, 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: This transcript was produced by Descript, 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.


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