Three General Structures of Employee Ownership in the USA

Self-Employed or Partnership

What might your local artisan (painter, jewelry maker, or independent writer), home repair person, or housecleaner have in common? If they are self-employed, they have an employee-owned business. You also might be an employee-owned business if you are in a partnership with one or more people where all employees share the risks and rewards of ownership. Tens of thousands of individuals work as tradespeople (electricians, plumbers, etc.), counselors, accountants, beauticians, marketers, artisans, and more. 

Employee Stock Ownership Plan

What do Best Friends Pet Hotel, 100% employee-owned Litehouse Foods, and 100% employee-owned Phelps County Bank have in common? They are all owned by their employees. These examples represent a type of business called an Employee Stock Ownership Plan or ESOP. An ESOP is a type of business where employees earn stock in the company. There are thousands of ESOPs in the United States. Employees own varying degrees of company stock, and some companies are 100% employee owned.

Employee-Owned Cooperative

What do The Drivers Cooperative, Just Coffee Co-Op,  A Slice of New York, Cooperative Home Care Associates, and The Connective, have in common? These businesses are worker-owned cooperatives, another form of employee-owned business. Cooperative businesses usually share decision-making powers with their employees and tend to be more democratic in nature. If you are tired of rigid hierarchy in business and think it should be more democratic (elections, shared decision-making, etc.), you will appreciate this business model. 

Employee-Owned Business Directory

Certified Employee-Owned

Certified Employee-Owned has a directory of employee owned businesses. They also offer a certification for businesses that are at least 30% employee owned.

US Federation of Worker Co-ops

The US Federation of Worker Co-ops and the Democracy at Work Institute have a directory of worker co-ops in the US. The provide a downloadable version on their website.

N.C.E.O.

The National Center for Employee Ownership has a list of America’s largest majority-owned companies. They also have research and publication information.

My name is Jessica Sweeney, and I’ve created this website as a resource for all things employee owned. I want to contribute to the employee-owned economy because employees should be included in the gains made through our economy.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a master’s degree in Public Administration. My prior work experience includes Government Relations Director, where I worked to advance the rights of paralyzed veterans. I also worked in the field of healthcare policy on issues such as, reducing health disparities and primary- care workforce development.

This website is a means to accomplish 3 things:

  1. Promote existing employee-owned businesses (they must be at least 20% employee owned, which I consider the bare minimum in order to enfranchise employees)
  2. Raise awareness about the 3 forms of employee-owned businesses
  3. Connect people who want to start their own employee-owned businesses with resources