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One Way to Boost Profits and Reduce Inequality? Turn Workers Into Owners

KKR partner Pete Stavros says giving employees skin in the game is difficult to do, but it pays off.

Stavros (center) speaking with employees of C.H.I. Overhead Doors in 2018.

Stavros (center) speaking with employees of C.H.I. Overhead Doors in 2018.

Source: C.H.I. Overhead Doors

What’s the best way to combat wealth inequality, increase employee engagement and boost profits? Give workers an ownership stake, says Pete Stavros, co-head of US private equity at KKR & Co. Stavros recently started a nonprofit called Ownership Works to assist companies in creating employee equity plans, which he says help focus workers on a common mission. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Why is it important to get employees in on the action?
First, it builds wealth in the bottom of the economy. Two, it addresses racial and gender inequities, because pushing ownership broadly and deeply benefits people of color and women. Third, the government estimates that 60% to 65% of Americans are financially illiterate, so owning stock gives people a real opportunity to learn how money works.