April 8, 2021

New Aspen Institute Report Urges Action to Make Disadvantaged Groups Employee-Owners

NCEO founder and senior staff member

A new report by the Aspen Institute, Race and Gender Wealth Equity and the Role of Employee Share Ownership, urges the adoption of a series of initiatives to use employee ownership to address race and gender inequality.

The report notes substantial race and gender disparities in retirement plans. “In 2016, among families headed by individuals between 32 and 61 years of age, 68% of white families had retirement savings accounts, compared with 35% of Latinx families and 41% of Black families. And among families that had retirement accounts, the level of savings also differed substantially, with white families having median retirement savings of $79,500, compared with $29,200 for Black families and $23,000 for Latinx families. [M]en had higher median savings levels than women, at $40,000 and $28,000, respectively. In 2016, the median white family had $147,000 in wealth, compared with $3,600 for Black families and $6,600 for Latinx families.”

The report notes the considerable research we and others have reported on showing that participants in employee ownership plans, especially ESOPs, have substantially higher wealth and retirement assets (see, for instance, our report at www.ownershipeconomy.org).

The report urges a number of changes, including:

  • Funding state, local, and federal outreach efforts to promote employee ownership
  • Funding employee ownership initiatives in low-income communities
  • Providing funds for feasibility and technical assistance
  • Providing dedicated loan programs for employee ownership conversions
  • Making it possible for employee-owned companies with qualifying demographics to qualify for contract set-asides