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Mini-cast 47: Support for All Forms of Employee Ownership

In this episode of The ESOP Mini-cast, Bret Keisling discusses his support for all forms of employee ownership, his belief that EO can and will address societal issues such as gender, race, and pay/income discrepancies, and why he’ll work with everyone including socialists, Marxists, and capitalists to support ESOPs, CoOps, collectives and more.


Mini-cast 47 Transcript

Announcer: 00:02 Welcome to The ESOP Mini-cast brought to you by Capital Trustees. A great way to wrap up the week.

Bret Keisling: 00:19 Thanks for stopping by the ESOP Mini-cast. I'm Bret Keisling. I wanted to come on today and share just some perspectives I've developed over the last couple of weeks. As listeners will know if you follow me on social media, I have transitioned from Capital Trustees where I was ESOP focused to being a broader proponent for employee ownership generally. And I just want to tell you where I'm coming from; my part of the sandbox.

Bret Keisling: 00:46 I believe employee ownership is going to solve, can solve, and will solve a lot of societal problems here in the United States, which is primarily my focus, but also around the world. I don't believe employee ownership is going to solve the problems if they're only ESOP employee owners, or if they're only cooperative employee owners, or collectives. I believe in employee ownership, the principles that apply, come from all aspects of political and economic thought. And I don't want to get caught up in finding out where someone's perspective is on the political or economic spectrum. I just want to work to encourage employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: 01:32 So I'll give you an example. I consider myself, I've always considered myself, a capitalist. In the last week or so I've started to do some reading and I may be a "Kelso-ist". I don't necessarily have a lot in common, or would be very comfortable with, the stereotypical hardnosed capitalist, mergers and acquisition transaction expert who is creating an employee owned company to wring every last dollar out of the trust on behalf of the selling shareholder. That's not someone I have the world view, but I'm glad that they're creating employee ownership because once it is an ESOP, then there are influences that could turn the company around.

Bret Keisling: 02:15 Conversely, there are folks doing great, great things for employee ownership on the political spectrum that I wouldn't necessarily agree with politically. There are some who despise capitalism that believe that capitalism must come down or democracy must come down. I don't agree with that, but it's also not relevant to me, if they are supporting employee ownership, I'm going to leave for others to fight out capitalism versus socialism, or socialism versus Marxism, et cetera, et cetera; outside of my ability to grasp those issues, because the reality is I think that employee ownership, as I said, is going to address issues that we all care about. I believe that employee ownership if instituted properly at companies will minimize gender and racial inequities in the workforce. I believe that pay scale differentials would be much harder to occur in a employee owned company.

Bret Keisling: 03:16 I would certainly hope, and I've done podcasts on this, that the #MeToo movement would be much more minimized and employee owned company. I'd be very disappointed if I weren't, if I found out that I was incorrect on that. Here's an example, by the way, that also shapes my perspective a little bit. When the #MeToo movement exploded with Harvey Weinstein about a year and a half ago, we recorded a podcast with Kathy Speaker MacNett, wonderful attorney [The ESOP Podcast Episode 15 – Kathy Speaker MacNett of SkarlatosZonarich LLC on Anti-Discrimination Policies and Creating a Healthy Work Environment]. And first of all, we discussed touching in the workplace and Kathy made the point that, specifically, it's unwanted touching that's a problem. But I would hear people all the time in my regular way of life, regular day say things like, well you just can't go up and put your hand on a woman's back. And I think to myself, and I said it on the podcast, we say no touching in preschool. What is it about the office that makes people think they can be grabby regardless of their intention? But then there's another perspective that's more troubling. I've heard a lot of people say in the media, and I've heard people say to me in conversation, you know, "If women make such a big deal on this, they're not going to get promoted 'cause men aren't going to trust them." First of all, I'm not even going to address the substance of that comment. Take a step back. If there is anything that a group of people in this case women could do that collectively would prevent them from getting promoted or getting hired, that is simply proof positive of the male domination, and forgive me the white male domination, of corporate way of life. And when I say forgive me, the white male domination, what I simply mean is I don't want to go politically down that path, but if we look at it, there are a lot of things that are going on around the country, around the world.

Bret Keisling: 05:22 We're looking at history a little bit differently. We're looking at history in some cases significantly different. There are arguments to put things in context and I know those arguments are going to come, uh, continue. What I'd like to do is focus on the fact that employee ownership is in any of its forms positive for citizens, for the employee owners themselves, for their communities. And if you are doing anything to promote employee ownership, or if you're an employee owned entity that's doing good in the world, then I'm going to be looking to help tell your stories this fall with a variety of podcasts because we are ultimately all in the sandbox together. And I happen to think employee ownership is a great way for us to work towards the best potential that we all can be.

Bret Keisling: 06:14 I'm Bret Keisling. I'd really love to hear from you [see our contact info at] and find out why employee ownership matters to you. Have a great day and thanks for listening.


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