The NCEO and EOX, as a part of our NCEOX Initiative, are proud to announce the launch of the NCEOX Inclusivity Fund. With support from our friends at ESOP-owned Panagora Group, we are using this crucial moment in our economic history to leverage the benefits of employee ownership to address both racial and gender wealth disparities.

What is the Inclusivity Fund?

Panagora Group, an ESOP- and woman-owned company, was recently featured on Viewpoint with Dennis Quaid. The program highlights the importance of Panagora Group's identity as a woman-owned and led firm as well as the benefits of being employee-owned on the success, growth, and culture of the company.

Panagora Group as featured on Viewpoint with Dennis Quaid

It's no secret that women- and minority-owned and led businesses face unique challenges. These hurdles extend from financing and access to capital, to succession planning. In spite of these challenges, diverse workforces and leadership teams are often associated with higher performance and profitability, and according to a recent study, a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) can have a positive impact on competitiveness, innovation, and brand perception.

With that in mind, we want to use the NCEOX Inclusivity Fund to foster a more inclusive capitalism using employee ownership to help preserve women- and minority-owned businesses.

How will the fund be used? What will the NCEOX do?

Precisely what we accomplish with the fund will depend on how many donations we receive. That said, we can divide our potential activities into two main categories: addressing the need for more employee ownership and addressing the needs of currently employee-owned businesses. Both of these will be from a lens of foregrounding women- and minority-outcomes.

Creating more employee ownership

As mentioned above, there is a dire need for more employee ownership in this country as well as solutions for women and workers of color to close the wealth gap. Using the Inclusivity Fund, the NCEOX Initiative will:

  • Execute targeted outreach campaigns to women- and minority-owned businesses to educate them on employee ownership as a succession option.
  • Find a sustainable pathway for businesses that are currently certified as women-owned or minority-owned, and as such rely on those certifications for a certain amount of business, then retain those certifications while becoming 100% owned by and for the benefit of their employees.
  • Work with WBENC, the NMSDC, and other organizations that speak to these demographics on the above two issues in hopes of easing the pathway to employee ownership for their constituents.

Creating resources for employee-owned companies

At the same time, we would aim to address the dearth of resources available for currently employee-owned businesses to support their employee-owners who are women or workers of color. This includes:

  • Relaunching our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workshop for employee-owned companies.
  • Featuring more DEI-adjacent topics at NCEO events and webinars, as well as more speakers from diverse backgrounds.
  • Creating networking groups for women and minority leaders from employee-owned companies.
  • Launching an EO Education scholarship for companies to be able to send employee-owners of diverse backgrounds to more ESOP events.

Why now?

Panagora Group founder and president Betsy Bassan, as a part of her stalwart commitment to promoting employee ownership and her recognition of the importance of addressing gender and racial wealth gaps, encouraged the NCEO and the EOX to use this opportunity to shine a light on these issues and generate crucial support for our work in addressing them.

With economic inequality at an all-time high and no signs of it improving, the stakes have never been higher for creating more employee-owned companies. You don't have to look far for statistics on the disparity for women and workers of color in our economy. What's often glossed over is that the outcomes with regards to wealth are drastically worse.

According to an article from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, while the income gap between women and men is already dismally low with women earning roughly 82 cents to every dollar a man earns, the wealth disparity is closer to 55 cents in wealth held by women-led households compared to the full dollar held by men-led households. 

The data on household wealth by race is even more dismal, with the most recent census showing that "non-Hispanic white householders had a median household wealth of $187,300, compared with $14,100 for Black householders and $31,700 for Hispanic householders."

Meanwhile, the country is in the middle of the largest wealth transfer event in its history, as baby boomers continue to reach retirement age and consider their succession options. This represents an enormous opportunity for the market to correct the aforementioned disparities by increasing employee ownership and, as a result, the wealth for women and workers of color who are employed at these businesses. Beyond the sheer wealth transfer aspect, many woman- or minority-owned and led businesses have a distinct identity that they wish to preserve, which other liquidity options like private equity or selling to a competitor cannot guarantee. Employee ownership presents the unique opportunity to preserve legacies while creating wealth for everyday people, women and workers of color among them.

Click here to see if employee ownership is a fit for your business.

    We ask that any and all individuals, companies, organizations, and foundations give what they can to this important project to help improve the American economy overall and outcomes for women and workers of color more specifically.

    More Resources:

    1. Inclusive Enterprises paper: A look at ESOPs and how they interact with the different certifications, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
    2. Creating an Inclusive and Diverse Company: A webinar for NCEO members on how to make sure all are heard and represented at your company.
    3. At the Intersection of ESOPs and DEI: a blog post from 2021 looking at the much-needed and yet under-explored overlap between employee ownership and DEI initiatives.
    4. A blog post on the important work done by our friends at Apis & Heritage.

    Donate Below

    The NCEO is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and your donation is tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S. law. Please keep a copy of your receipt, and we will send a digital confirmation of your donation for your records. Questions about the Inclusivity Fund? Please reach out to NCEO communications director Tim Garbinsky at [email protected].

    Select "Restricted donation to the NCEOX Inclusivity Fund" in the Donation Type box