Asset-building advocates have long included investment strategies – home and business ownership, in particular – as critical steps along a path to financial security for low-income working families, but we have typically focused on individual ownership strategies. Notable exceptions include recent Ford Foundation investment in the exploration of shared equity homeownership as a way to enable low-income families to build home equity while preserving public subsidies and keeping housing affordable over time and the Annie E. Casey Foundation has supported a national work group focused on the asset-building value of shared business ownership.
Today, there are new windows of opportunity to bring funders, investors, advocates and practitioners of shared business ownership strategies into the broader asset-building movement. Two common employee ownership strategies are a logical place to start—Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) and worker-owned cooperatives. These strategies have long supported U.S. workers – across the wage spectrum – to build financial assets through ownership of an equity stake in the businesses where they work. ESOPs are one type of employee benefit plan that buys and holds company stock on behalf of workers. Worker-owned cooperatives are companies that are owned and democratically managed by their employees.
- Reid Cramer
Employee Ownership: A Promising Asset Building Strategy (The Ladder)