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Nonprofit Targets $20 Billion Toward Employee Ownership

A combination of investment houses, pension funds, nonprofits and individual investors have signed on to a nonprofit’s plan to raise and invest $20 billion into employee ownership programs.

Ownership Works launched last year as a 501(c)(3) and combines at least 60 private, public and nonprofit sector partners. The plan is to develop and help implement broad-based employee ownership programs to create better work environments and financial opportunities for employees, and to help businesses improve their performance by attracting and retaining engaged employees who are invested in their company’s success.

“This movement is about working in concert to create a future of work where employers and employees can win together,” said Anna-Lisa Miller, executive director of New York City-based Ownership Works. “We believe broad-based employee ownership should be an important pillar of stakeholder capitalism and of an inclusive, equitable and resilient economy. We’re grateful to our partners for helping us create new models of shared ownership that can generate superior financial returns for businesses, investors and employees alike.”

Details of the value of the individual commitments were not announced.

Some 19 asset management and financial services firms have committed to providing Ownership Works with charitable donations, as well as a range of programmatic support. They include Baird, Bank of America, BMO, BNP Paribas, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Mizuho Americas, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.

Several nonprofit and foundations have committed to the plan, including Credit Suisse Americas Foundation, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, Ford Foundation, Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA), Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream, Omidyar Network, Rockefeller Foundation and UBS Optimus Foundation.

“We are proud to support Ownership Works and their efforts to create a more inclusive, worker-centric business model that incorporates the needs of all stakeholders alongside shareholders,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, via a statement. “Creating an economic system that works for all will require new models for business, including employee ownership, that generate wealth for all.”

The organization lists 19 investors agreeing to collaborate with Ownership Works to advance shared ownership within their portfolios. Partners with an emphasis on control investments will implement new models of shared ownership within at least three of their portfolio companies by the end of 2023, while also sharing data and insights from their experience so that these models can be evaluated and improved over time. Among them are Altamont Capital Partners, Apollo Global Management, Arcline Investment Management, Ares Management, KKR, Leonard Green & Partners and Shamrock Capital.

Professional services firms involved include Deloitte, EY, Gallup, Kirkland & Ellis, and McKinsey & Company.

The model is:

  • Structuring and implementing broad-based ownership programs that provide every employee with the opportunity to participate in the value they help create;
  • Developing a culture of ownership that addresses long standing employee engagement issues by aligning an entire workforce around a common purpose, values and goals to maximize shared wealth creation and foster work environments where employees feel respected and engaged;
  • Creating a financially inclusive and resilient workforce through programs that address the widespread lack of financial literacy in America by providing employees with access to personal financial education and coaching, along with access to cost-effective financial services; and,
  • Sharing data, best practices and insight on the impact of shared ownership on employee financial wellbeing and corporate performance.

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