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Mini-cast 86: EO and Changing Our World

Many of the critical issues facing our society can be addressed by employee ownership. Bret Keisling discusses data released by NCEO in 2018, and how candidates, officials, and advocates promote the concepts of EO, whether they realize it or not.

Sections of this episode were originally published in Mini-cast 72: An EO Look at Another Debate.

The audio clips of Tom Steyer are from the February 25, 2020 Democratic Party Debate and were quoted from the CBS News coverage of the public debate per 17 U.S.C. § 107: Fair Use. The full original of the source we quoted can be viewed here.


Mini-cast 86 Transcript

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

Bret Keisling: 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. The United States continues to be rocked by the twin crises of the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following the death of George Floyd. As I've shared over the past several weeks, and indeed for the almost three years that I've been doing the podcast, I believe that many of the important critical issues facing our country can be addressed by employee ownership. In February of 2020, history was made when employee ownership was mentioned for the first time ever at a presidential debate. I discussed this in Episode 71 of the Mini-cast. In Episode 72 of the Mini-cast. I then talked about a second presidential debate where so many candidates speak of the concepts that are critical to employee ownership, but don't connect the dot and mention employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: So in Episode 72, there were clips from several of the candidates. As I've, frankly, sat and listened for the last couple of weeks and tried to process everything going on in the country in the context of employee ownership, I'm convinced more than ever that if employee ownership were itself a movement, if we have a groundswell, that we would have a very positive impact on many of the issues facing our country today. So I'm going to take the opportunity to play you a clip from Episode 72 of the Mini-cast. Former democratic presidential candidate, Tom Steyer, made several comments that again just reinforce the point, he's talking about employee ownership, even though he doesn't say it. Let's go back to February, and Episode 72 of the Mini-cast.

Bret Keisling: The reality is that employee ownership, in my view, takes care to address many of the problems that are important and being discussed to all Americans of any political stripe party, et cetera. My approach here is a nonpartisan approach. I'm not looking to endorse candidates or even party. I am however, looking to expand the debate of employee ownership or the conversation I should say. Before I talk about the debate and we are going to run some clips, I do want to turn to NCEO. NCEO is a great source of information, hard data about employee ownership. In our show notes, we're going to have a link to NCEO's 2018 Update on Employee Owners, but there are some stats that I'd like to share with you from that publication and to me it informs what I, all political candidates, not just the presidential candidates, not just Democratic candidates, but candidates all over the country at any level, any party are missing the boat if they don't adopt employee ownership.

Bret Keisling: So I'm going to read a list of benefits available at jobs, and again, this is from NCEO, and we're going to share how the benefits are available to employee owners and non-employee owners. So a flexible work schedule: 63% of employee owners have a flexible work schedule, only 40% of non-employee owners. Medical, surgical or hospital insurance that covers injuries or major illnesses off the job: 97% of employee owners have this, only 69% of non-employee owners. Life insurance that would cover you for your death if it wasn't connected to your job: 92% of employee owners have it, 60% non-employee [owners] don't. Paid maternity or paternity leave: 67% of employee owners have it. 32% of non-employee owners have it. A retirement plan other than social security: 92% have -- of employee owners -- have it, 55% of non-employee owners have a retirement plan. And I'm assuming that they mean a retirement plan in addition to the ESOP employee ownership as well, because as folks know, cut everything we talk about employee ownership and ESOP is a qualified retirement plan. Tuition reimbursement, reimbursement for certain types of schooling: Two thirds of employee owners have this benefit, only 26% of non-employee owners have it. Company provided or subsidized childcare: 26% of employee owners have this benefit, 6% of non-employee owners. The reason I bring this data to your attention is that so many issues regarding healthcare, childcare, education, wealth and wage inequality among gender and racial groups. All of these issues are finely addressed by employee ownership. So now let's turn to the Democratic debate. I'm going to play a couple of clips for you and I'm asking you to listen to the clips in the same way that I do, which is to hear if you can, how close they're talking about employee ownership, but they're not getting there.

Bret Keisling: Here are three clips from Tom Steyer. See if you agree that even though he never says employee ownership, he could be talking about it.

Tom Steyer: 06:28 I don't believe that a government takeover of large parts of the economy makes any sense for working people or for families. I think that what we need to do is to present an alternative that includes a vibrant, competitive private sector. But we all know, unchecked capitalism has failed. The answer is not for the government to take over the private sector, though. We have to show that we can create a growing, prosperous economy that works for American working people.

Tom Steyer: 06:59 I have started a bank to support black ownership of businesses, women ownership of businesses, and Latino owners of businesses, because this financial service industry is prejudiced.

Tom Steyer: 07:10 Every single policy area in the United States has a gigantic subtext of race. We're talking about education. We're talking about criminal justice. We're talking about housing. We're talking about loans. I started a bank to basically to correct the injustice in the financial services industry. Basically, to make loans to black-owned, Latino-owned, and women-owned businesses.

Bret Keisling: Next time you hear any candidate or elected official or community advocate talk about solutions to the problems facing our country, see if you agree with me, employee ownership should be much more part of the solution and part of the conversation.

Bret Keisling: With that, we'll wrap up today's episode of the Mini-cast. You can find Episodes 71 and 72 and all of our 200 archived episodes at Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope that you stay safe and remember we're all in this together and that's how we're going to get through it together. This is Bret Keisling. Thanks for listening.

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 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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