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Mini-cast 85: EO and Communities

As the United States faces unprecedented challenges from coronavirus and nationwide protests, Bret Keisling addresses how EO and its focus on communities should play an important role moving forward.

Here is the link to the video of "Love Says" by Sekou Andrews and The String Theory mentioned at the end of the podcast.


Mini-cast 85 Transcript

Announcer: 00:03 Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast, a great way to wrap up the week.

Bret Keisling: 00:13 Hello, my friends. Thank you for listening. My name is Bret Keisling and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. As we release this episode on June 5th, 2020, the United States has surpassed 107,000 deaths from the coronavirus. In addition, we've seen unprecedented levels of protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody. Our country is in pain, our people are fractured, and in my mind there are real questions as to whether things will get worse and or how much worse before healing and progress begin to really take hold. I believe that many of the issues our country faces are inextricably connected to the principles and values that are the hallmark of employee ownership. Ultimately many of the best arguments for employee ownership, revolve around community, job security, reducing salary and wealth gaps among people of color and women, and, of course, the fact that employee owned companies are much more likely to stay in their communities rather than relocating or shutting down as a result of corporate takeovers.

Bret Keisling: 01:24 If you follow employee ownership or you're a regular listener to this podcast, you've often heard so many of us refer to the seminal study about employee ownership, put up by the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations. As you'll hear in this excerpt from Mini-cast 43, too often EO advocates, myself included refer to the data in the study while glossing over its title, "Building the Assets of Low and Moderate Income Workers and their Employees [correction: Families]". Here's my conversation with my son, Brian Keisling who for two years was host of the many casts and our podcast producer.

Brian Keisling: 02:07 You and I have talked quite a bit about the study that just came out in March from the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing that came out of Rutgers university. Can you tell us a little bit about how that study relates to the "why"?

Bret Keisling: 02:24 It's really important Brian, particularly at this time in employee ownership history. NCEO, The ESOP Association, Dr. [Joseph] Blasi who was with Dr. [Doug] Kruse were the primary researchers -- or, I apologize, primary authors -- of the report, are discussing the report thoroughly on social media. There's YouTube videos. We're going to include a link to it at, our website. [Link:].

But one of the things, Brian, in all the discussions of the report, there's a focus on why this is a great time for employee ownership and at The ESOP Association conference in Washington, as we've talked about a bit quite a bit, they've discuss a goal of 40 million employee owners in 10 years. And then I pulled up the report, this week thinking you and I would chat about some of the statistics on the stuff we find interesting and I'm really hit Brian, by the title of the report and I think literally the headline's been buried a little bit. The title of the report formally was "Building the Assets of Low and Moderate Income Workers and their Families, The Role of Employee Ownership." There's a lot of power in the statement building assets of low and moderate income workers and their families. So that's kind of driving, turning this even more so into a mission.

Brian Keisling: 03:49 Sure. Yeah, that makes sense. You know, we've talked a lot about both on the podcast and out in ESOP and employee ownership world at these different conferences with people about, you know, what is, what is the goal? What are you trying to get out of your employee ownership plan? Whether you're an ESOP or a Co-op or doing some sort of employee ownership model, what are you trying to get out of it? And I think that this report is, is looking at a really important part of that which is building those assets for people who otherwise wouldn't have that opportunity.

Bret Keisling: 04:23 I think you're exactly right Brian. And one of the things that I'm excited about is, you know, I did my first transaction in 2008 and then I was President and CEO of a 100% employee owned company for a couple of years before forming Cap Trustees. And I've always, since I've been involved, been a firm believer of employee ownership, but for me, I believe that employee ownership offers an opportunity for everyone. Exactly what I look for professionally. I want to be valued in what I do. I want to believe that I'm having a positive influence. I want to be fairly compensated for what I do. And, for me, I'm very lucky that my career and my passion and my personal life all come together. But even in terms of the employee owners who go to work and their job just allows them to have a lifestyle that they like. That's okay too. But I think that my focus is going to be in recognizing that employee ownership is very important. It won't solve all of the problems of low and moderate income workers, but it's a great way to start addressing some serious issues.

Bret Keisling: 05:39 I hope you'll take an opportunity to review the Rutgers study if you haven't already, but even if you've had take another look this time mindful of the title, the role of employee ownership, as it relates to low and moderate income workers, perhaps you'll agree with me that employee ownership can have a role, should have a role and must have a role in making our world a better place moving forward.

Bret Keisling: 06:09 As we go through these trying times, there are plenty of examples of ugliness and vitriol, but if one is of the mind, you can find glimmers of hope and grace and beauty emanating to the surface. Sekou Andrews is a Grammy-nominated poet. And you may recall he was one of the keynote speakers at The ESOP Association's National Conference in Las Vegas in November, 2019. Mr. Andrews and The String Theory have put out a new video on YouTube called "Love Says." It is powerful. It's inspiring. It's beautiful. Not just the words that he speaks, but visually it is just so compelling. That to me is a powerful message emanating to the surface in these difficult times. We're going to include a link to "Love Says" in our show notes, it is very well done.

Bret Keisling: 07:06 Thank you for taking the time to join me today. Be safe, be well and whatever you do strive to make a difference. I'm Bret Keisling.

Bitsy McCann: 07:16 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 Third Circle, Inc. and 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: This transcript 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.


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