SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Certified Employee-Owned (Certified EO), America’s first certification program for employee-owned companies, today announced their official launch. Certified EO’s mission is to build an identity for employee ownership and they are supported by 29 “founding member” companies including WinCo Foods, Lifetouch, and Modern Times Beer.
“By combining the reach of employee-owned companies, we’re looking to draw attention to the importance of employee ownership,” explained co-founder Thomas Dudley. “Employee-owned companies provide a better customer experience, build wealth for working people, and strengthen local economies. Employee ownership has a lot to offer Americans, but right now it’s invisible. We’re changing that.”
Today there are roughly 6,000 employee-owned companies with combined revenue of over $200B and employment of around 1.5 million. They operate in every industry in the economy and in all 50 states.
In addition, the idea of employee ownership resonates strongly with Americans. In a nationally-representative survey, 35% of consumers were more likely to buy Certified EO products – more influential than Fair Trade. Certified EO reports similar results from surveys of job seekers.
Despite the prevalence of employee-owned companies and the appeal of the idea, employee ownership is not on the national radar. That’s why employee-owned companies passionate about spreading awareness of EO have rallied to Certified EO. Michael Meek, CEO of Lifetouch, explains “Employee ownership is an important part of the Lifetouch story. We talk about it, but how can we show it? Certified EO will help us to spread this part of our story to our customers, partners and communities.”
Widespread awareness of employee ownership could do more than benefit existing employee-owned companies. It could also attract more businesses to the model. “We hope our participation as a founding member of Certified EO will not only set an example for other employee-owned companies, but also encourage others to provide their employees an ownership stake in their company,” said Hank Fitchett, Senior Vice President at WinCo Foods.
In total, Certified Employee-Owned has 29 founding members. They have a combined annual revenue of more than $9B and over 48,000 employees. Founding members operate in diverse industries all across the country. Companies looking to join Certified EO must demonstrate that at least 30% of the company is employee-owned, and that their employee ownership is broad-based.