In 2022, the Fortune 500, the largest publicly traded companies, generated nearly over $16 trillion in revenues and over $1.6 trillion in profits. Large public and private companies such as these that have more than 1,000 workers employ more than 40 percent of the US workforce. Though a sizable percentage of these companies offer profit sharing programs or equity compensation, many workers, particularly front-line employees, do not participate or have access to these programs resulting in missed opportunities to expand wealth and create a culture of employee ownership to improve innovation and business performance. Speakers discuss innovations in employee ownership and how we can reimagine how large corporations share profits and ownership and create a future where workers and companies thrive together.
This discussion features remarks from Marshall Vance (Associate Professor of Accounting; L. Mahlon Harrell Faculty Fellow, Virginia Tech), Felice Klein (Assistant Professor of Management, Boise State University), Chris Fredericks (President and CEO, Empowered Ventures), Erik Forman (Co-founder, The Drivers Cooperative), Anna-Lisa Miller (Executive Director, Ownership Works), Robyn Shutak (Managing Director, Infinite Equity) and moderator ( Joseph Blasi, Director, Rutgers University Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing).
This discussion was hosted on June 15, 2023, as part of the Employee Ownership Ideas Forum, which brought together leading policymakers, practitioners, experts, and the media for a robust discussion on how we can grow employee ownership for the shared benefit of American workers and businesses. The Forum was co-hosted by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program and the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University. Learn more: https://www.aspeninstitute.org/events/employee-ownership-ideas-forum/
Conversations from the Employee Ownership Ideas Forum
- Growing Economic Freedom and Prosperity: The Case for Employee Ownership
- Ownership on the March: Recent Progress in Supporting Employee Ownership
- Unleashing an Ownership Economy: The Role of Government Agencies
- Owning the Future: Creating the Next Generation of Employee Owners
- Rebuilding the Middle Class through Employee Ownership
- Ownership for Equity: Building an Inclusive Economy through Employee Ownership
- Employee Ownership and the Company of the Future
- American Values and the Competitive Advantage of Employee Ownership
Associate Professor of Accounting, The L. Mahlon Harrell Faculty Fellow Virginia Tech
Dr. Vance’s research examines the design and effects of executive and broad-based compensation plans. His recent papers address the role of proxy advisory firms in the design of executive compensation, how managers weight on-the-job performance vs. initial assessments of ability in making promotion decisions, and how employees respond to equity compensation plans, among other topics. Marshall’s research has been published in elite accounting and management journals, including Journal of Accounting Research, Management Science, and Journal of International Business Studies. Marshall’s research has been recognized with multiple awards through the American Accounting Association, including twice receiving the Best Paper award at the Management Section Midyear Meeting. He has been awarded several competitive grants and fellowships to support his research, and Dr. Vance is a senior fellow of the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Marshall taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Southern California, and the Wharton School, where he received his PhD.
Felice B. Klein
Assistant Professor of Management, Boise State University
Felice is an Assistant Professor of Management at Boise State University. Previously, she was a faculty member at Michigan State University and received her Ph.D. from Cornell University. Broadly speaking, her research focuses on compensation and inequality in the workplace. In her current research, she studies the role of gender on differences in compensation and leadership and is particularly interested in the individual and organizational efforts that help reduce inequities in the workplace. Klein’s research has appeared in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, and Industrial Relations, and has been covered by several media outlets such as Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, and Boise State Public Radio. Her popular press writing has appeared in The Conversation, Fast Company, BBC News, Yahoo News, and Salon. Her work has received numerous awards, including being named a finalist for the 2022 Scholarly Achievement Award and receiving the 2019 Best Convention Paper Award, both from Academy of Management’s HR Division. She also received the 2013 Emerging Scholar Award in Employee Participation and Ownership from the HR Division of AOM, the Foundation for Enterprise Development, the Employee Ownership Foundation, and the Equity Administration, Inc.
Founder & CEO of Empowered Ventures
Chris founded Empowered Ventures, serves as president & CEO, and is a member of the board of directors. Chris has a diverse background in management, accounting and finance, business valuations, mergers and acquisitions, operations, people development, and strategy. In 2010, he proposed and led the acquisition of TVF (www.tvfinc.com) on behalf of the employees using an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), which enabled a successful ownership transition for the founder. After overseeing a decade of success as an employee-owned company, Chris and TVF launched Empowered Ventures (www.empowered.ventures) in 2020 to grow and diversify the ESOP through acquisition. Inspired by TVF’s transformative employee ownership experience, Chris led Empowered Ventures to define its purpose which is to perpetually create life-changing financial and personal wellbeing outcomes for its employee owners. Chris resides near Burlington, Vermont, having relocated from his home state of Indiana in 2022. He is a graduate of Indiana University Bloomington’s Kelley School of Business with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. A former CPA, Chris started his career in public accounting in the nonprofit sector before joining TVF in 2005, where he served in various positions including chief financial officer, before serving as president from April 2010 through March 2021.
Co-Founder, The Drivers Cooperative
Erik Forman is co-founder of The Drivers Cooperative, the first driver-owned ride-share platform cooperative in the United States, as well as People’s Choice Communications, the world’s first worker-owned internet service provider, launched by striking cable technicians. He is currently working with the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust on new, inclusive economic development strategies to address the housing crisis. Before turning toward cooperative development as a strategy for system change, Erik was active in the labor movement for over 15 years, leading groundbreaking unionization campaigns in the fast food industry and conducting organizing trainings and workshops across the world. Erik is pursuing a doctorate in cultural anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center. He was a 2022-23 Job Quality Fellow at the Aspen Institute.
Executive Director, Ownership Works
Anna-Lisa Miller joined Ownership Works in August 2021 and serves as its founding Executive Director. She is responsible for the organization’s strategy, key partnerships, growth, and overall impact. Anna-Lisa’s career reflects a longstanding commitment to expanding shared ownership, advancing racial equity, and driving systemic change within business, government, and social structures. As an experienced nonprofit leader, she has a proven track record of developing organizations, programs, and partnerships that create social returns for stakeholders and communities. Previously, Anna-Lisa served as the Development Director at Project Equity, a peer organization that helps local businesses and communities discover the power of employee ownership. Prior to this role, Anna-Lisa served as Chief Operating Officer of The Kohala Center, a Hawaii-based sustainable development organization, where she led teams to success across a diverse portfolio of programs spanning shared ownership to watershed restoration. In that role, she also served on the Executive Committee of the Hawaii Lieutenant Governor’s Farm to School Program, for which she received recognition from the Hawaii State Senate. Anna-Lisa began her career as a corporate attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. She practiced law for five years in New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. in the areas of corporate and public finance. In 2014, she transitioned to the nonprofit sector to pursue her passion for expanding economic opportunity.
Robyn is a Managing Director at Infinite Equity, specializing in global equity compensation consulting for multinational employers. She has over 20 years of experience advising companies on all aspects of their equity compensation programs, including plan design and implementation, employee communications strategies, and administration efficiencies and optimization. Prior to joining Infinite Equity, Robyn held various leadership positions with Computershare, the Global Equity Organization (GEO), the National Association of Stock Plan Professionals (NASPP), and several San Diego based technology companies. Robyn is an active board member for the Certified Equity Professional Institute, a frequent speaker on equity compensation topics, and co-author of the book, “If I’d Only Known That.” Robyn has a Bachelor of Arts in English from San Diego State University, a Paralegal Certificate (with honors) from the ABA Paralegal Program at the University of San Diego, and is a Fellow of Global Equity (FGE) and a Certified Equity Professional (CEP). She is based in San Diego.
Joseph Blasi (Moderator)
Robert Beyster Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University and
Director of the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University.
Joseph Blasi is the J. Robert Beyster Distinguished Professor at Rutgers University and Director of the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University. The Institute is the world’s largest academic institute addressing all forms of capital shares for employees and citizens, including broad-based equity compensation plans, ESOPs, worker cooperatives, citizen dividend programs, profit sharing, and gain sharing. It sponsors empirical research, a competitive fellowship program, academic conferences, a Shares Laboratory, a curriculum library, and a policy analysis unit. Blasi is author of The Citizens Share (Yale University Press, 2014), Shared Capitalism at Work (NBER and University of Chicago Press, 2010), In the Company of Owners (2003, Basic Books), and The New Owners: Employee Ownership in Publicly-traded Companies (1990, HarperCollins), with colleagues, among other books and articles. He was Visiting Professor at Princeton University (2014-2015), Yale University (1997-1998), and a member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study. He is a faculty member in the School of Management and Labor Relations and is an economic sociologist with an Ed.D. from Harvard University.