“A Better Way of Doing Business”

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There is an article out today from the Employee Ownership Association in the UK about the growing employee ownership (E-O) in the UK.

As 2015 starts to take shape, employee ownership remains the fastest growing form of business in the UK. The number of companies owned by their workforces is increasing at an annual rate of 9%. We are very much on track to reach the target I first set out in 2012 and that has since been so widely endorsed, of 10% of UK GDP being produced by employee owned firms by 2020.

from A Better Way of Doing Business

That is an appropriately titled article, even somewhat understated. The fact that employee-owned businesses, even partially employee-owned businesses, outperform shareholder-only owned firms on basically every metric is so well-proven a human would be well-past climate-change denier status to argue it. (See, for instance, [PDF] The employee ownership effect: a review of the evidence.)

Study after study shows improved worker morale, earnings, employment longevity, etc, etc, etc. The same with the top down numbers. E-O firms last longer, are more profitable, more green, more community conscious, etc, etc, etc. This should be expected. Happier, harder-working employees, who are actually getting a slice of profits make a healthier, more profitable company.

The UK even has a stock index that follows just publicly traded E-O companies, the UK Employee-Ownership Index. Of course, those stocks are crushing the purely share-holder owned companies.

So, more profit for the 1%, more profit for the workers, more ecologically and community friendly firms, etc. And profits go up!! Ding-ding! You want GDP to go up? Give workers a slice of the pie (profits!)

I mean, talk about a no brainer. You’ve got millionaire grocery clerks at an E-O grocery in Oregon, study after study talking about happy, healthy, workers, communities and companies, and an E-O stock index that shows that capitalists can make more money if they just invest in firms with just and equitable corporate structures.

Plus, since all those employee-shareholders are now more invested in the outcome, I doubt many of those millionaire grocery clerks are voting their shares to spend gobs of money lobbying for lower wages.

So economically, ecologically, ethically, and any other way you can think of, employee-owned is better than shareholder only. That is the true sharing economy, just outright sharing the profits with those who actually create the profits, will raise all boats. The facts are in, and it is obvious that E-O is a better way of doing business.

The article initially mentioned points out that the UK is on the way to 10% employee-ownership. The US has about 3 million employee-owners, less than 1 % of the population, maybe approaching 2% of the workforce. Here, obviosly, Americans in the US, both workers and capitalist, are missing the boat. The emotional greed of “we want ALL the profit” actually makes these US companies less profitable than they could be if they became even partially E-O.

Why the workers don’t care I can’t fathom. Desperation, fear, apathy, ignorance? I don’t know. Perhaps they are distracted by quibbling about taxes, crumbs, and forgot that the goal should probably be getting a slice of the pie. Perhaps they are distracted by getting Koch to stop lobbying to tear down workers and haven’t noticed that employee-owners don’t waste their money lobbying for lower wages, though they may be wasting money advocating or lobbying for a greener environment or some other such silliness.

Anyway, I understand, employee-ownership reeks of socialism. Frankly, it is a form of socialism, libertarian-socialism. Yeah, combining two scary words isn’t going to help. But if you actually talk it out, “the workers have a voice in the business, there is no need for unions or government intervention,” it doesn’t seem so bad. Then throw in the workers make more, and investors make more, it gets even better. Then throw in that that the workers are happier (because of the money and having a voice), that the E-O companies tend to be more green, more involved in the community, and more successful, that every politician from JFK to Ronald Reagan to Clinton and on through Ron Paul and Kucinich have lauded the benefits of E-O, I think you are starting to see a trend.

Now the comments are gonna come out about this scary story or that, maybe Enron, or Worldcom, or Countrywide. Yeah, when the scary stories mostly involve outright fraud rather than a flaw in employee-ownership, they can’t be taken seriously. Further, studies and surveys by the US ESOP Foundation have shown that employee-owners have more in their 401k with other company stocks than the average US worker has, then PLUS the shares of their own company, so that the average ESOP employee has way more than twice the stock of the average US employee, and the proof that the ESOP stocks go up more than other stocks, the arguments fall flat.

This brings me back to why US workers aren’t demanding E-O participation. Shame. Rather than fear of be rebuffed, or fear of starvation, it is shameful to admit that you have been openly exploited. Same for the capitalists. To stop being exploitive and start becoming equitable, and more profitable, LOL, would engender some shame. Shame that you had previously been less profitable solely out of viciousness. But that’s where we stand. Be happier, healthier, and wealthier, workers and capitalists, share the profits.

OK. I’m gonna’ go find another dead horse to beat.

mikerhys

Founder and current administrator of EquitablePrinciples.com

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