“Inclusive ownership funds” are an exciting new idea building momentum in policy circles on both sides of the Atlantic. The basic idea is to mandate and institutionalize a more equal distribution of corporate profits and a more inclusive design for corporate governance by requiring small cumulative grants of company shares to a trust operated on behalf the workers at larger companies. These inclusive ownership funds create an automatic share for workers of any dividends issued by a profitable corporation–a critically important result in an era when worker compensation has been largely stagnant despite rising economic productivity.
We know that worker ownership generally is quite popular—our polling around the democratic economy indicated, for instance, that 69% of Americans would like to institutionalize a right of first refusal allowing workers an opportunity to purchase their workplace in the event of a sale. But do inclusive ownership funds, which create a pathway to scaling up meaningful employee ownership in all of our largest corporations, also enjoy wide popular support?
The answer is: yes. Working with YouGov, we asked survey respondents “Would you support or oppose a policy requiring companies with over 250 employees to put 10 percent of their shares into a workers fund, which would pay dividends out to the company’s employees?”—and 55% indicated they would support such a policy, with only 20% opposed.
We also tested to see whether Americans would support an inclusive ownership funds policy with a significantly higher cap on the size of share of corporate ownership for workers that could be mandated. To our surprise, a policy with a yearly share levy of 2% of corporate equity, up to a maximum of 50%, enjoyed essentially indistinguishable levels of support.
Notably, while this ambitious policy advancing a more egalitarian distribution of power and profits within U.S. companies was predictably popular with respondents identifying as Democrats, 50% of Republicans surveyed expressed support for the idea of inclusive ownership funds that would, at the end of 25 years, hold up a 50% stake in every US company with more than 250 employees.