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Mini-cast 233: First Annual Employment Ownership Ideas Forum



Bret Keisling celebrates the first annual Employee Ownership Ideas Forum held this week in Washington D.C. and virtually. Co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute and the Rutgers SMLR Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, the goal was to bring together policy makers, practitioners, experts, the media, and representatives from employee-owned companies for a robust discussion on how we can all grow employee ownership for the shared benefit of American workers and businesses, as well as the communities and states that the businesses are located in.


Maureen Conway of the Aspen Institute and Joseph Blasi of the Rutgers Institute were active throughout the forum, and both did an amazing job, and we say thanks and congratulations to them and all of the panelists, presenters, moderators, and attendees who made the EO Ideas Forum a tremendous success.



... or watch the video below.

 

Aspen Institute Employment Ownership Ideas Forum Agenda

 

Mini-cast 233 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. I'm going to spend a few minutes today celebrating an amazing program put on this week called the first annual Employee Ownership Ideas Forum.


[00:00:28] Co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute and the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing, the goal of the Employee Ownership Ideas Forum was to bring together policy makers, practitioners, experts, the media, and representatives from employee-owned companies for a robust discussion on how we can all grow employee ownership for the shared benefit of American workers and businesses, as well as the communities and states that the businesses are located in.


[00:00:58] I was so happy to attend virtually. Over two days, there were eight different sessions made up of panels that really did represent a cross-section of employee ownership.


[00:01:08] The first day included an impressive list of elected officials, including US senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both from Maryland. And they were joined by representatives Dean Phillips of Minnesota, Blake Moore of Utah, and Chrissy Houlahan from my home state of Pennsylvania.


[00:01:26] They are among the primary sponsors of the Employee Equity Investment Act that was recently proposed in both the US Senate and House of Representatives, which we talked about not that long ago on Episode 229 of the Mini-cast. It was such a pleasure to listen to elected leaders talk about employee ownership in a way that showed they really get it. I think that bodes well for the future.


[00:01:50] One of the cool things about the format of the EO Ideas Forum is that all of the sessions, or at least the ones I was able to attend, started off with remarks by either the elected officials or the academics who were on the panel. This rooted all of the discussions in a foundation of fact, particularly with the academics sharing research that supports what many of us already know anecdotally about EO: helping to address wage and wealth inequality among gender and ethnicity; the effects of employee ownership on communities; the importance of not just employee ownership in name, but rather a combination of ownership as well as employee engagement and voice, are just a few examples of the themes that were explored.


[00:02:33] I thought it was really cool to have members of the media, among them, The Washington Post,New York Times, and Politico, to moderate some of the sessions. First off, all of the moderators did a great job of keeping the sessions flowing smoothly. An added benefit, in my mind, is that with the members of the media and the elected officials participating in the forum, I believe and hope that employee ownership made a strong impact on each of the contributors, which could add to increased attention in the form of more media stories and legislation.


[00:03:06] It was also interesting to see the interplay between what I'll call traditional employee ownership, the kind of work with ESOPs and worker cooperatives that we see from the NCEO, TEA, and EOX, along with those on more of the private equity side, who use employee ownership for more of a short-term benefit for its employees. Speaking just for me personally, and not taking anything away from the great work that the private equity folks are doing, but seeing them together on the panels reinforced what I believe to be the attributes of true employee ownership, which as I mentioned above, includes engagement and a voice for the employees, not just on allocation of stock.


[00:03:48] Finally, it was so cool for me to see that almost every panel included past guests of The EsOp Podcast, including Jennifer Briggs who's a member of the Colorado Employee Ownership Commission, David Hincapie who's an economic development specialist with the SBA, Jack Moriarty who's the founder and executive director of Ownership America, Steve Storkan of EOX, Evan Edwards of Project Equity, and Chris Fredericks, who is the president and CEO of Empowered Ventures. Everyone did an amazing job presenting from their spots in the EO sandbox and it really was just fabulous.


[00:04:27] So, congratulations to the Aspen Institute and the Rutgers Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing. And by the way, Maureen Conway of the Aspen Institute and Joseph Blasi of the Rutgers Institute were active throughout the forum, and both did an amazing job. So, congratulations to both of them and their teams at their respective organizations who really put on an amazing two-day program.

[00:04:52] I'd also like to thank Adria Scharf of the Rutgers Institute, who is a recent guest on The EsOp Podcast. She emailed me a couple of days in advance, shared with me the agenda, and pretty much let me know it would be an amazing program to attend. I really appreciate that she did so.


[00:05:11] Before we go, some of the names that I just mentioned are part of our upcoming programming. This coming Tuesday, Steve Storkan of EOX and Loren Rodgers of the NCEO join me for Episode 250 of our primary EO/ESOP podcast to talk about the NCEOX initiative... and to celebrate our 250th episode just a little bit!


[00:05:33] I'm scheduled in the next ten days to record with Jack Moriarty of Ownership America who's going to discuss the Employee Equity Investment Act as well as recent legislation in the states, including Washington. And then, although I haven't confirmed the date yet, I'm looking forward to having Chris Fredericks of Empowered Ventures come on and talk about a variety of issues, including the new EO-themed podcast that Empowered Ventures recently launched.


[00:06:00] With that, I'll wrap up today's episode of the Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling. Be well.

 

[00:06:07] 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, 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 cannot guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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