Employee Inclusivity and Inequality in America: The Promises and Perils of Shared Capitalism
Pohler, D. (2015) Employee Inclusivity and Inequality in America. Perspectives on Work, 19: 18-21; 76--77.
Do shared capitalism practices that give employees an “ownership” stake in the companies for which they work—through profit sharing, gain sharing, share grants, or stock options—present a viable solution to address inclusivity and income and wealth inequality issues in America? Or is shared capitalism simply "old wine in new bottles"?
There has been increasing interest in the promise of shared capitalism to improve firm performance, increase employee productivity, enhance employee well-being, increase employee voice and participation, and reduce wealth and income inequality. Recent research has found correlations between shared capitalism practices and many of these outcomes, particularly firm performance. However, shared-capitalism practices that increase employee financial ownership of the organizations for which they work do not usually fundamentally alter the governance structure and power dynamics inside the firm that really matter for ensuring employee inclusivity and reducing inequality at the firm level. To do so requires greater employee participation and influence over the decisions that determine the distribution of organizational benefits than is currently the norm in the United States.