A New Way to Wave the Employee-Ownership Flag


A new ESOP venture has come to our attention we thought you might find interesting. Ownership Alliance is a new research and endorsement enterprise that has come up with a program to certify companies as employee owned and provide them with rights to use the “EO Certified” emblem above on their advertising. The assumption is that if your potential customers know you are employee owned, it will predispose them kindly to working with you or buying your products or services. Their research is intriguing. They have, for example, found in one of their studies that a number of favorable inferences are drawn by at least some of the public when a company is known to them to be employee owned. The results of this study of associations made with employee ownership are interesting.

In one study, for example, Ownership Alliance researchers found that when they asked a sample of more than 2,000 respondents to select a statement that would illustrate their reaction to the question, “Which of the following would you think are true of a company whose logo included the Certified Employee Ownership label above?” Forty-one percent said that it would be a company that provides fair compensation. Twenty-nine percent said that it would strengthen the local economy. Twenty percent said that they would expect the company to have a strong commitment to customer service. Nineteen percent thought the company would be committed to social responsibility, and 16 percent indicated that they would perceive the company to have superior products or services. Of course, these are not hard data, but they are suggestive of a positive view.

Though not an overwhelming wave of good impressions, Ownership Alliance believes that when coupled with other promotional efforts and a constant commitment to quality, both of which characterize so many employee-owned companies, it could very well be a deciding factor in a good number of acceptance decisions.

The certification itself is, like the Best Places to Work designation is self-sought by individual companies and certified by Ownership Alliance. Their criteria for awarding the designation are somewhat in flux, but as of this writing, the basic criteria are that you have a significant amount of employee ownership and that you are proud enough of that to brand yourself as employee owned. Though it is unlikely that this designation alone would do much to improve business by itself, but if it gets your company noticed more favorably in even a few marketing opportunities, it might be worth it.

The research continues on the exact impact of employee ownership on company buy-decisions, but the results to date are certainly suggestive. Another of their early efforts attempted to measure the willingness of customers to pay more for a product with the Certified Employee Owned emblem above than they would without it. Nearly half of the respondents (out of about 1,500 respondents to the survey) were willing to spend, at least, somewhat more for a product or service from a company that was certified employee owned, and 11 percent of the respondents indicated a willingness to pay up to 30 percent more for a product of a company sporting the EO certification.

You are considering buying a product when you see this logo on the package.

How does this affect how likely you are to buy the product?

eo-certified fair-trade great place b-certified
5 - Much more likely to buy 13% 11% 4% 4%
4 - Somewhat more likely to buy 28% 24% 16% 10%
3 - No change 50% 52% 64% 67%
2 - Somewhat less likely to buy 3% 5% 5% 9%
1 - Much less likely to buy 6% 8% 10% 10%

Of course, these are objectively small numbers, but are consistent with the assertion that the Certified Employee Owned designation could be at least as effective in promoting a "buy decision" as several of the best known designations being employed to create a favorable result for the companies that qualify for and display them.

We are going to keep an eye on these guys; they may really have something here.  If you are interested in pursuing it further, or you can reach out to Ownership Alliance at www.ownershipalliance.com or info@ownershipalliance.com and show your pride in employee ownership.

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