Created over a century ago, The John Lewis Partnership ( JLP) in England is the largest department store chain in the country with 35 department stores and 272 Waitrose grocery stores. It is 100% employee owned. It was created with fairness in mind.
As Marjorie Kelly notes in her article “The Good Corporation” in Yes! Magazine, there are economic alternatives to capitalism, akin to JLP, emerging as cooperatives, employee-owned firms, social enterprises and community land trusts. Ownership by its employees unites these new models.
Our current economic system is crumbling. As old systems break down, corporations and individuals alike would benefit from redefining their company purpose. Instead of only answering to shareholders, enabling a “few” to profit, holding a shared vision of keeping the planet and all its inhabitants thriving would be a welcome change. Embracing healthy sustainability and fairness empowers employees and their communities to flourish.
How do we make the switch to this alternative?
Fortunately, companies like JLP and Organic Valley serve as examples.
Organic Valley is a farmer-owned cooperative where the owners are the suppliers. Kelly points out the shared benefits of this model: ” Farmers benefit from healthy income. Employees benefit from stable jobs and rewarding work. Customers benefit from chemical-free food. Investors in the firm’s preferred stock benefit from dependable rates of return. Farming communities benefit from the return of vitality that flows from farmers’ prosperity.”
Change emerges through unity by holding the highest intentions for all involved – whatever the business, idea, or project.