Practicing Ethical Capitalism
Structural racism and unchecked capitalism have led us down a path of deep inequality, wealth gaps, and corporate models that often silence and hold back disadvantaged groups. We are intentionally building our business in a way that addresses those issues.
It’s clear that employee ownership and DEI are good for workers and good for business. Data across hundreds of studies show that ESOP companies benefit from higher staff satisfaction, productivity, profits, survival rates, with higher wages and better benefits (NCEO, 2013). ESOPs offer a unique opportunity to address growing wealth gaps in the U.S., which are often larger for women and people of color. A 2019 study by the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University found that ESOP companies help narrow the wealth inequality gap for employees who are women and people of color in several key ways. Similarly, companies with more diverse leadership teams tend to have higher profitability and performance (McKinsey, 2020).
“By empowering employees through an ownership model, increasing financial literacy and equity, and developing a culture of belonging and inclusion, we can be the change we wish to see in the world. “
We believe that it’s critical to connect DEI with an ownership model to have a deeper impact. In a recent Forbes Magazine article, “The Business Impact of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” the author writes that DEI efforts often “remain performative… the lack of a direct tie to the core business makes them vulnerable to cuts as soon as the pressure is off, or the economic environment becomes tougher.”
DEI programs are a natural tie in with ESOPs because they include all eligible employees in receiving equity in the company. By building DEI into our employee ownership model and using an ownership lens to implement DEI, we are directly tying DEI to our core business.
“Leveraging the power of ownership means creating an environment where people of all levels and backgrounds can contribute their knowledge, ideas, and perspectives,” explains Linshuang Lu, Managing Principal at Praxis Consulting Group, a leading employee ownership and DEI-focused organizational development firm that is advising us. “This can’t happen if people don’t feel welcomed, valued, respected, or heard at work. Panagora is among a leading group of companies who are thoughtfully integrating DEI with their overall culture development plan so that it becomes an essential part of the company’s identity.”