Our Employee Ownership Story

Creating a Culture of Inclusion Through Employee Ownership

As a woman- and employee-owned company, we believe that 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. Our commitment to employee ownership and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is being featured in a story on the Viewpoint with Dennis Quaid show, airing on Public Television across the country. Watch the video below!

We believe that employee ownership can benefit all companies. However, we know firsthand that women- and minority-owned businesses have been underrepresented among ESOPs and typically have an interest in promoting an ownership and DEI culture. And we know it can be daunting to navigate how to become an ESOP and build a culture of ownership and belonging for any company. So, we worked with the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) and the Employee Ownership Expansion Network (EOX) to create the new NCEOX Inclusivity Fund to both support women- and minority-owned businesses to become ESOPs and support current ESOPs to build and deepen DEI practices. Learn more and donate to the NCEOX Inclusivity Fund here:

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.”

Behind the Scenes of Our Video Shoot with the Viewpoint Project

We were approached by the producers of the Viewpoint with Dennis Quaid show to be featured in a short documentary showcasing our commitment to DEI and employee ownership. The goal of the larger Viewpoint Project is to “enlighten audiences by delivering diverse informational and educational documentaries by covering a variety of issues and topics. The Viewpoint Project is on the cutting edge of the television documentary industry, producing top quality programming for Public Television. Viewpoint Project is dedicated to the mission of developing and distributing social and educational programming about our neighbors, our community, and world. Each story has one thing in common – changing our lives for the better.” We’re proud to be featured on this show, which is airing on Public Television nationwide!