Employment and Jobs

POSTPONED: Can Employee Share Ownership Improve Racial and Gender Wealth Equity?

Event information
Wed Jul 1, 2020
3:00pm - 4:30pm EDT
The Aspen Institute
2300 N Street NW Suite 700
Washington DC 20037
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Update – Event Postponed

We have decided to postpone this event, originally scheduled for Friday, March 20. The health and safety of our staff and participants is our highest priority. Therefore we are actively monitoring both the government guidance on the recent outbreak of coronavirus, as well as the best practices of other convening organizations.

We do not believe hosting this event would pose a unique risk to our guests or staff. However, out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to reschedule for later this year. If you already registered for this event, you will be notified when a new date has been set. (The date noted here, July 1, is a temporary placeholder until a final date is confirmed.) Until then, we hope you stay connected to our work through our website, email, and social media.

We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you are able to join us in the future. As a reminder, all our public events are livestreamed on our website, so if you are based outside the Washington DC area or are otherwise unable to travel, you can join us virtually online. If you have any questions, please contact us.

About this event

While our economy may appear strong if one looks solely at aggregate GDP, the underlying story is one of growing divides. White households have roughly 10 times the wealth of Black households. Households headed by single women have less than 40% of the wealth of those headed by single men. The types of wealth held by families matter too. Financial and business assets enable greater diversification and returns over time, but Latinx and Black families hold a much lower percentage of their wealth in financial and business assets. Lack of wealth limits opportunity—low- or no-wealth households struggle to buy a home, invest in education, save adequately for retirement, start businesses, or achieve other financial goals.

Broadening opportunities to participate in the ownership of business assets could narrow wealth divides and expand the freedom of working people to chart their own economic future. Expanding employee ownership is a promising avenue for more people to participate in business ownership, allowing working people to participate in the upside of their company’s success and to build assets. Further, research shows that firms with employee share ownership can perform better than their peer firms, particularly when broad-based ownership is complemented with employee education and engagement strategies.

A panel will discuss recent research on employee share ownership and its role in building wealth for low- and moderate-income workers, as well as for women and people of color. It will also consider public policies and business practices that can help expand the rewards of employee share strategies. The discussion will include perspectives from research, business, policy, and the voice of workers. We hope you can join us.


Opening remarks

Natalie Abatemarco

Natalie Abatemarco
Managing Director, Citi Community Development

As managing director of Citi Community Development, Natalie Abatemarco manages Citi’s efforts to strengthen new and existing strategic community initiatives with nonprofits and consumer advocacy organizations, focusing on expanding economic empowerment and growth for lower-income and underserved communities. She oversees the national initiatives, Citi Inclusive Finance (US), and service design, public policy, and communications work for all of Citi Community Development, as well as Citi’s Office of Inclusive Housing and Citi Salutes.

Ms. Abatemarco has held various roles within Citi since joining the firm in 1996. She currently serves as a member of Citi’s North America Consumer Bank Business and Industry Practices Committee and the Community Reinvestment Act/Fair Lending Governance Committee. She is one of six senior Citi leaders to have been recognized among American Banker “Most Powerful Women” rankings.

Ms. Abatemarco is also a member of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Minority Depository Institutions Advisory Committee. She is a founding member of the Asset Building Policy Network, a coalition of civil rights organizations committed to improving the opportunity for economic progress for low-income individuals and communities of color, and also serves on the boards of directors of the Long Island Community Foundation and the Woodstock Institute in Chicago, as well as the Bankers and Community Council of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.



Alberto Aguilar

Alberto Aguilar
Vice President of Manufacturing, Carris Reels, Inc.

Alberto is the vice president of manufacturing at Carris Reels, Inc., and has been named its next CEO/president, starting January 1, 2021. Carris Reels is an employee-owned company; 100% of the company’s stock is held in an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Alberto graduated as an industrial and systems engineer at the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Monterrey, Mexico, in 1987. He worked in the custom plastic injection industry prior to the start of his career with Carris Reels in 1999. His first challenge as general manager was to find a new location to open a plant in Mexico. Alberto facilitated the organic growth of Carris’ plant in Monterrey by strategically designing the plant, installing the equipment, and recruiting a large team of employees familiar with the plastics industry. In a short amount of time, Carris de Mexico was a profitable plastics manufacturing plant and still is today. His dedication to continuous process improvement earned Carris de Mexico the ISO 9001 certification in 2007. Several years later, Alberto was promoted to vice president of manufacturing for the Plywood and Plastic divisions and his family moved to Rutland, Vermont, where Carris Reels was founded.


Tina Bell

Tina Bell
Production/Office Administration, Carris Reels, Inc.

Tina Bell has been an employee of Carris Reels for 33 years and was with the company when it announced the establishment of the ESOP trust in 1995. She began with the company as a machine operator and has worked in a variety of different roles, working her way up to now scheduling work orders to manage various work processes. In addition, Tina is in her second three-year term as a corporate steering committee (CSC) representative, having been elected twice by her coworkers. The CSC is responsible for communications and decisions regarding governance, policies, benefits, and culture and advises the company’s management and board.


Janet BoguslawJanet Boguslaw
Senior Scientist, Institute on Assets and Social Policy, Brandeis University

Janet Boguslaw is a senior scientist at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University. She is also currently a non-resident Kelso and Wawa Fellow with the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at the School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University.

Dr. Boguslaw’s work focuses on multi-sector innovations and partnerships to advance economic opportunity and security for low-income populations through institutional and policy-driven initiatives. She has worked with corporate managers to research, direct, and advance their community development initiatives, with state agencies in the areas of workforce training and employment stabilization, and on funded research exploring issues of regional development, disparities, and wealth building. Her current projects examine regional job quality and career advancement strategies to increase racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in health care employment. At Rutgers University she is analyzing primary data collected through a Kellogg Foundation-funded research project on the asset building, life course, and family impacts of employee ownership for low and moderate-income workers, with a focus on its role in reducing gender and racial wealth inequality.

Dr. Boguslaw previously served as associate director of the Institute on Assets and Social Policy, in research at the Industrial Services Program of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Center for Corporate Citizenship at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, and as a consultant to unions, economic development agencies, and foundations to improve the employment security and stability of vulnerable populations.


Christina CummingsChristina Cummings
Director of Operations and Planning, Department of Grants and Community Development, City of Atlanta

Christina serves as the director of operations and Planning for the newly formed Department of Grants and Community Development within the City of Atlanta. She leads a team that stewards the city’s federal entitlement programs. Her work focuses on making strategic investments that advance affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization, and economic development programs. Christina was a part of the Atlanta team of the inaugural cohort of the Shared Equity in Economic Development (SEED) Fellowship, a partnership between the National League of Cities and the Democracy at Work Institute that convenes and equips city leaders with tools, resources, and expertise to build equitable economies using democratic business ownership. Her educational background includes a Master of Public Administration from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Georgia State University. Christina is a native of Atlanta and currently lives in the city with her family.



Kimberly Adams

Kimberly Adams
Host/Correspondent, Marketplace

Kimberly Adams is a host/correspondent at Marketplace, America’s largest broadcast business program. She covers the intersection of politics and the economy from Washington, DC, where she also serves on the board of governors of the National Press Club. Before moving to DC, Kimberly reported on the political, social, and economic upheaval in Egypt following the Arab Spring as a freelance journalist based in Cairo. Her work aired on multiple networks in the US, Canada, U.K., Ireland, Germany, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. While reporting in Cairo, she received awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Religion Communicators Council, and the Association for Women in Communication. Prior to freelancing, Kimberly worked as a producer for NPR from the DC headquarters, covering politics, arts, culture, and breaking news as a producer for “Weekend Edition” and the Washington Political Unit.


Join the conversation

Join the conversation by following @AspenWorkforce and @Aspen_BOI on Twitter and tweeting with the hashtag #talkopportunity.

Promoting #employeeownership can help to build a more equitable economy and expand the freedom of working people. Hear @AspenWorkforce and @Aspen_BOI #talkopportunity with guests from @CarrisReels, @IASP_Heller, @CityofAtlanta, @Citi, and @Marketplace.

While the economy looks strong on the surface, the underlying story is one of growing divides. For marginalized groups, it’s still difficult to build wealth, but #employeeownership may help to curb this trend.

Lack of wealth limits opportunity, like homeownership, education, retirement, and entrepreneurship. For women and people of color, the wealth divide can seem insurmountable, but #employeeownership may offer a way to advance.

Expanding #employeeownership is a promising way to help people build wealth, allowing workers to share in the upside of their company’s success.


Learn more

This event is part of the Opportunity in America series, an ongoing discussion series hosted by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. We are grateful to the Ford Foundation, Prudential Financial, Walmart.org, and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth for their support of this series. This event is also made possible through collaboration with Citi Community Development. For more information, visit as.pn/opportunityinamerica.

The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. We recognize that race, gender, and place intersect with and intensify the challenge of economic inequality and we address these dynamics by advancing an inclusive vision of economic justice. For over 25 years, EOP has focused on expanding individuals’ opportunities to connect to quality work, start businesses, and build economic stability that provides the freedom to pursue opportunity. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on events, publications, blog posts, and more.