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Can Employee Ownership Help Break Gender Bias in the Workplace?

Employee ownership and gender: Meeting time

Many people feel that when companies set up an employee ownership trust, it helps bridge gaps in equality in the workplace between men, women, and other genders. Having employee ownership in place puts everyone on the same level, meaning that everyone has a voice regardless of gender, and that is a step in the right direction when removing gender bias.

But is it really that straightforward? Let’s delve in…

What is Employee Ownership?

Employee ownership refers to a type of business structure where a significant portion of the company is owned and controlled by its employees rather than by outside investors or a small group of shareholders. This can take various forms, such as employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), worker cooperatives, and profit-sharing plans.

In an employee-owned company, employees have a direct financial stake in business success, and they often have a say in the company’s decision-making and governance. This can lead to increased motivation and engagement among employees, as well as improved productivity and performance.

Additionally, employee ownership can help to align the interests of employees and management, and it can provide a sense of ownership and pride for employees.

Gives People a Voice

Employee ownership is a way to foster a culture of engagement and empowerment within a company, giving employees a greater sense of ownership and investment in the business. It allows them to have a meaningful impact on leadership decision-making and to have their voices heard and considered.

Writing in the office: Gender communication
Image by aymane jdidi from Pixabay.

Unlike traditional models, employees are not just seen as numbers but as valuable members of the organisation with unique contributions to make. With employee ownership, representation is not just a target or a percentage but a lived reality where diversity and equality are taken seriously and integrated into the company’s decision-making process.

It Brings People Together

Being employee-owned does not exempt a company from facing challenges, such as those related to gender equality. However, the approach taken to address these challenges can be vastly different.

Employee ownership fosters a culture of engagement, empowerment, and collaboration, where diverse perspectives and voices are actively sought out and valued. This allows for a more inclusive and holistic approach to addressing challenges, as opposed to a top-down decision-making process.

One powerful illustration of this approach is the question, “But who isn’t in this room that we should be having this conversation with?” It highlights how important it is to be aware of and actively seek out diverse perspectives and voices rather than assuming that the current group of people has all the answers.

Woman in brainstorming meeting
Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay.

Employee ownership is about recognizing that by working together and collaborating, the solutions to challenges can be more comprehensive and effective.

Senior Roles Benefit from Better Representation

Traditionally, boards are often heavily male-dominated, which can create the perception that these positions are not accessible or appropriate for individuals who do not see themselves represented. However, employee-owned businesses have the potential to be more representative boards, particularly in terms of gender.

On trust boards, for example, there is often a significant presence of women. This representation can help to challenge assumptions and promote greater diversity in these roles. While there is still progress to be made, many organisations are actively working towards increasing diversity in senior roles and understanding the factors contributing to the underrepresentation of women in these positions.

Breaks Down Barriers

In employee-owned businesses, the opportunity for employees to share their perspectives and experiences is built into the organisational structure. This allows for open dialogue about any barriers that may be preventing progress.

Whether through employee councils, trust boards, or forums, there are established mechanisms for employees to voice their concerns and for the organisation to address them. By actively seeking out and listening to employee feedback, organisations can better understand the real barriers that exist and take steps to remove them.

It’s also important to distinguish between actual barriers and those that may simply be perceived. Addressing assumptions and misconceptions about women in the workplace can also be an effective way to promote diversity and inclusion.

Time to Consider Employee Ownership?

As you can tell from this article and the points outlined, there are many benefits to employee ownership. Especially in terms of creating a healthy balanced workforce for all colleagues. It could put a company on the right path to having equality, all while empowering all employees.

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only; it is not a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a lawyer/solicitor for advice on employee ownership. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.


Top image by Malachi Witt from Pixabay.

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