ESOP Plus Benefit Corporation: Ownership Culture with Benefit Accountability
Stakeholder capitalism seeks to benefit multiple stakeholders, rather than primarily shareholders. Two increasingly popular forms are the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) and the benefit corporation. But what happens when a company combines these structures? While the benefit corporation’s expanded stakeholder mandate may appear to come at the expense of employee-owner wealth and the potential for shared power, in fact they can complement one another. Being a benefit corporation can strengthen the employee-owned company’s ownership culture through enhanced engagement and creation of a meaningful work environment. And in turn, employee owners can add a layer of accountability to help them meet the benefit corporation’s expanded stakeholder mandate.