Empowering Success: The Case for Implementing Employee Ownership

In the world of B Corp, there are significant points to be scored from adopting some kind of employee ownership scheme in your business model.

But it’s not just about point scoring. As well as boosting your score on your B Impact Assessment (BIA), the benefits of giving employees ownership in the company, drives enhanced productivity, greater commitment, more resilience, and better talent recruitment and retention.

So what’s it all about? This article takes a look at the what, why and how of worker ownership models.

What are employee share ownership plans (ESOPs) and how do they factor into B Corps?

Employee share ownership plans (or ESOPs) are a legal agreement that allow employees to receive and earn ownership in the business that they work for. They are a clearly defined pathway for employees to become shareholders and to benefit from the success of the company that they contribute to.

“There’s no better way to tune people in to creating value than to make them shareholders… I do know it gave our people more understanding and a sense of responsibility for what was going on in the company… in my view it’s a win-win.” David Thodey – Chair of the Board, Xero

Different types of ESOPs exist and are best suited for different businesses, so it’s important to understand which option is best for you. 

If you hang out in B Corp world, you probably know that companies score more points for having some kind of employee share ownership plan (ESOP).

And if your company meets the criteria for the Worker Owned Impact Business Model, it’ll bag you up to 30 points in the B Impact Assessment, which is a big bite of the 80 points required to get B Corp certified. 

As well, research shows that companies with significant employee ownership grow faster than their conventionally-owned counterparts. 

Still though, if you’re a business owner who has done the hard yards to build your company up from nothing, it can seem like a big ask to then just hand over ownership of that company to employees. 

Even when you see the research, which shows that companies with significant employee ownership tend to get boosted productivity, enhanced loyalty, and ultimately greater long-term success. 

Still, for a conventional company, the idea of shifting to an employee ownership model can seem confusing and complicated. So why would you? There are a few reasons:


Employee ownership is about granting employees a financial stake or ownership interest in a company. This can take various forms, including share options, profit sharing, or direct share ownership. The goal is to align the interests of employees with those of the organisation, creating a sense of shared purpose and mutual benefits. Benefits of adopting it include:

  • Enhanced Employee Engagement and Commitment

Implementing employee ownership can significantly enhance employee engagement and commitment. When employees become partial owners of the company, they have a personal stake in its success. This sense of ownership can drive employees to go the extra mile, leading to increased productivity and dedication to their work. Furthermore, as owners, employees are more likely to take a long-term perspective and actively contribute to the organisation’s growth and profitability.

  • Retention and Recruitment of Top Talent

Employee ownership programs can serve as a powerful tool for attracting and retaining top talent. In a competitive job market, prospective employees are increasingly seeking organisations that offer opportunities for growth, financial incentives, and a sense of purpose. Employee ownership provides all these elements. It signals to potential candidates that the company values its employees and rewards their contributions. Additionally, existing employees are more likely to stay with an organisation that offers them a chance to share in its success.

  • Improved Productivity and Innovation

Ownership fosters a culture of accountability, empowerment, and innovation. When employees have a say in decision-making and are directly affected by the outcomes, they are more motivated to perform at their best. Employee owners often take on an entrepreneurial mindset, proactively identifying opportunities for improvement, and suggesting innovative solutions. As a result, organisations that embrace employee ownership often experience a surge in productivity and a competitive edge in their respective industries.

  • Long-Term Sustainability and Stability

Implementing employee ownership can contribute to the long-term sustainability and stability of a business. As owners, employees are more likely to take a vested interest in the company’s success, leading to increased loyalty and lower turnover rates. This continuity translates into cost savings associated with recruitment, onboarding, and training. Moreover, employee-owned companies tend to have more robust financial performance, as employees are personally invested in the business’s success.

  • Healthy Corporate Culture and Trust

Employee ownership can foster a positive organisational culture and build trust among employees. Employee owned companies typically pay more, are less likely to lay people off in a downturn, and they build community wealth. When individuals feel valued, respected, and trusted, they are more likely to collaborate, share knowledge, and work towards common goals. Transparency in sharing financial information and involving employees in decision-making processes creates a culture of open communication and inclusivity. This culture of trust nurtures a supportive environment where employees feel motivated to contribute their best efforts.

By aligning the interests of employees with those of the company, organisations can foster a culture of ownership, collaboration, and shared success. As businesses navigate the evolving landscape, employee ownership serves as a powerful tool to unlock the full potential of their workforce and secure a prosperous future.


There are three main types of employee ownership structures that companies can adopt. Here are some common types:

  1. Share Options: Share options are agreements that give employees the right to purchase company shares at a predetermined price (the exercise price) within a specified period. They often have a vesting period, and employees can exercise the options to acquire shares once they become vested. This allows employees to share in the company’s value appreciation.
  2. Phantom Shares: Phantom shares is a form of equity-based compensation where employees are granted hypothetical or notional units that mirror the value of the company’s stock. Employees receive cash payments equivalent to the increase in the stock’s value over a certain period, without actually owning the shares. This is similar to a formalised profit-sharing agreement
  3. Loan to purchase plans: this is a structure that allows employees to acquire shares in the business they work. The company will usually issue a zero or low-interest loan to the employee to pay for the shares upfront. Over time, based on a variety of ways such as dividend distributions, cash contributions and salary sacrifice the loan to the company is paid down and the employee owns the shares outright.

Each type has its own specific characteristics and benefits, and companies can choose a structure that aligns with their goals and the needs of their employees. It’s important to consult with legal and financial professionals to understand the specific details and implications of each type of employee ownership.


It’s a lot easier than most people think.

To begin, the initial step is to determine the most suitable employee share scheme for your business. We strongly advise consulting with your professional advisors, such as lawyers or accountants, as a first step. This ensures that you select the optimal scheme to achieve your desired outcomes and are well-informed about the various tax implications involved. It’s important to get this right, and experts such as Orchestra have resources to guide your decision.

Orchestra is one of Australasia’s leading employee ownership softwares, providing a two-sided portal which enables companies to streamline the management process of the ESOP and even more importantly provides an online portal for ESOP participants to login to interact and engage with their ESOP.

Once you have made a decision on the approach, the allocation of the ESOP pool takes place. Typically, this pool represents around 5-15% of the total shares in the company, although it depends on the stage of the business. Employees then engage in negotiations regarding their ESOP and can utilise tools like Orchestra to effectively manage and monitor their progress towards ownership.

Employee Share Schemes can be intricate and challenging to maintain. So it’s important to have a dedicated management tool, providing employees with complete transparency regarding the benefits they accrue over time.


What is a B-Corp certified company?

Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. In essence, they are businesses which undergo an independent process of certifying the ongoing improvement of their environmental and social impacts.

What are the advantages of being a B-Corp company?

What are the benefits of becoming a B Corp? There are just so many! Where do we start? Okay let’s start with these six gooduns.

  1. Recruitment: B Corps attract the best talent and have better staff retention.
  2. Profitability and competitive edge: Empirical data shows that B Corps are making more money than non-B Corps in their industry. As well, B Corps proved more resilient through the pandemic.
  3. Brand loyalty: More customers want sustainable brands and are voting with their wallets.
  4. Access to capital: Investors are now demanding businesses they give money to have transparency on their ESG.
  5. Cost savings: By scrutinising their operations, B Corps have found innovative ways to significantly cut costs.
  6. Legislation-proof: Have you noticed the raft of new ESG legislation that’s been passed all over the world? Becoming a B Corp means you’re not going to be left behind.

Why we are seeing more companies in NZ and Australia becoming B-Corps?

More than 600 companies across Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia are Certified B Corporations, representing industries from accounting to waste management. There are many drivers of this growing interest but in the main, business owners have read the writing on the wall. The old way of doing business is extractive, destructive and unsustainable. A new low carbon economy is fast emerging as the world gets to grips with solving the unprecedented challenges of the climate crisis and a population approaching 10 billion. 

While the business world has driven much of this destruction, the business world is also the only sector that has the innovation, creativity and resources necessary to quickly find and scale the solutions.

Ultimately, business owners and employees are just people. And most people don’t want to trash their planet and their communities. They want to see their children and grandchildren thrive. This is also driving the growth of the B Corp movement because certification offers businesses an ESG roadmap. Most people want to be part of the solution they just don’t know how. B Corp shows them how.

What is the process involved? How long does it take?

B Corp certification is a positive screening tool. In other words, you score points for the good you’re doing, for example, treating your staff fairly, supporting disadvantaged groups in your community, or helping regenerate the environment. 

The types of companies that are interested in a certified B-Corp are probably already demonstrating some kind of ongoing impact in social and environmental improvement, so they may be closer to being B-Corp certified than they think!

In terms of timeline, it varies depending on the number of new initiatives a business decides to adopt and how much effort they require. As a rule of thumb, expect it to take 12 to 18 months, depending on the size and complexity of the business.

The first step is to have a conversation with a group or consultant that know what they’re talking about, such as the team at Grow Good, who offer free health-checks to better understand what would be involved in getting your business B-Corp certified.

Would you like help with that?

Here at Grow Good, we exist to coach people through the process of becoming B Corp certified.

The B Corp Impact Assessment framework  is free to access and provides dozens of useful insights and opportunities for any business but it can be confusing and overwhelming.

We are consultants who have completed the official training provided by B Lab, the organisation that runs the B Corp certification programme. We live, breathe and sleep B Corp. We are your B Corp buddies. We make it easier. We translate the questions into plain English and give you a host of template policies and example documents so you don’t have to start everything from scratch or reinvent the wheel. We show you how to unlock the big point scoring areas most relevant to your business.

Are you ready to go B Corp? It’s completely your decision but if you are, and if you think it would be helpful to have a guiding hand through the process, we’re here to help. Drop us a line or jump straight in and book a free 30 min discovery call with me.

Yours in purpose,

Ngā manaakitanga,



Are you Ready to B Better?

Ready to take the plunge towards becoming a B Corp business? Let the Grow Good team guide you through the process either through 1:1 coaching or group coaching on one of our regular cohort programmes for micro businesses. Book a 30-min discovery call with Tamara here.

You can use your Business as a Force for Good.

Just get started. Take the first step. Get in touch

10 years and 100 B Corps in Aotearoa New Zealand

It’s the 10th anniversary of B Corp in Aotearoa and we’ve just hit our 100th B Corp business.

Which is great!

But also not so great.

I’ll get to that in a moment but first, let’s celebrate the achievement. Back in 2013, B Lab launched in New Zealand and Australia, opening a headquarters in Melbourne. Ten years on and the ANZA region combined has clocked up more than 500 B Corp businesses.

Of that number, New Zealand comprises 100. The first business to certify as a B Corp in New Zealand was Eagle Protect in Christchurch back in 2012. Led by the long-time B Corp champion Steve Ardagh, Eagle imports and distributes ethically sourced disposable gloves and clothing for the food, industrial and medical sectors.  Hats off to Steve, he has passionately and tirelessly championed the B Corp movement here in Aotearoa for the last decade. Go you Steve.

Ten years later, we have reached the 100 milestone. If you search for the full list of all NZ B Corps on the official B Lab ‘Find a B Corp’ page, you’ll be given the full list of 100 with Christchurch creative agency Not Another listed as the most recently certified.

Anyway, that’s the good news. We’re part of a global community of more than 6000 B Corps and the trajectory is rising steeply.

The not-so-great news is that 100 NZ businesses is a tiny drop in the proverbial plastic-choked oceans.

Currently, there are about 562,524 businesses in New Zealand and about 2,314,200 employees. (I say ‘about’ because these are government figures from February 2021.) That’s a whole lot of businesses still running under the ‘business as usual’ model that 20th Century economist Milton Friedman made so popular in the 1970s. The Friedman doctrine, also called shareholder primacy or stockholder theory, is Milton’s ridiculous idea that the only responsibility of business is to increase its profits. That’s it. Milton opined that business doesn’t have to care about anything that doesn’t drive shareholder profits. In Milton’s la la land, there are no limits to the planet’s resources; we have endless supplies of everything, and there’s no need to mandate business to concern itself with pesky things like what happens to the waste generated by its products – that’ll just work out somehow.

And look where that’s got us. A world gripped by insatiable consumerism that is pushing the planet beyond its boundaries. Shareholder capitalism has delivered massive social inequality, modern slavery, biodiversity devastation, mass species extinction, global warming and climate change, senseless waste, and pervasive plastic pollution, which means we now have micro plastics in our food and water, which means its in our brains, organs, blood streams, and so on.

B Lab has the crazy idea that perhaps there’s a better way to run the world’s businesses and economies. Perhaps instead of polluting, destroying and perpetuating suffering every time we buy a t-shirt or chocolate bar, we could change a few things so that every action we take regenerates the planet and drives social equity.

Crazy, huh!

Happily, the number of us ‘crazies’ who believe we could do a whole lot better is growing. And this is what the B Corp movement is about. The triple-bottom line of people, planet and profit because for a business to thrive in the long-term, it needs to think about its impact on and its relationship with the stakeholders that it relies on to be successful. This is not just the shareholders but also its customers, employees, the environment, and the local communities that it literally exists in.

More businesses are seeking something like B Corp certification to hold themselves to account, to assess their social and environmental performance against benchmarks, to send a message, not just to their customers but also to their business partners, their suppliers, and their employees.

B Corps also work together as well to drive better outcomes for their communities, recognising that business has a role to play in wider society is a core philosophy of B Corp. And increasingly businesses like B Corps are being recognised as more resilient and profitable business models. This is possibly due to the relationships with stakeholders that businesses rely on in times of difficulty or crisis.

Anyway. The upshot is that while I’m delighted to see us reach the 100 milestone of B Corps in Aotearoa, I’m thinking ‘what about the other 550,000 or so?‘ So this is a call to those half a million Kiwi businesses as well as the people who work for them.

If you’re an employee, ask your management ‘why aren’t we a B Corp?

If you’re interviewing for a new job, ask the people hiring, ‘are you a B Corp?

If you’re a customer or client, ask the people you’re paying, ‘are you working on becoming a B Corp?

If you’re an investor assessing a start-up’s potential, ask the founder, ‘have you started your B Corp journey?

Because we need every NZ business to be at the social and environmental standards of a B Corp as a minimum.

With that said, let me move back to ‘yay good onya!’ mode. I am now going to list all 100 B Corps from oldest to newest (as of March 2023). Please support these companies, they are trailblazers.

Eagle Direct Ltd
Brown Bread Ltd
International Volunteer HQ
Little Yellow Bird
Grow Good
Peoples Coffee Limited
Duffle & Co. Ltd
CQ New Zealand Ltd
Redvespa Consultants Ltd
BioBalance Ltd
Toitu Envirocare
Sawmill Brewery
Green Business HQ Ltd
Kathmandu (KMD Brands)
Ngatahi Communications
Method Recycling
Mayne Wetherell
Brightly Solutions
Synlait Milk Limited
Fix & Fogg
LilyBee Wrap
Like-Minded Learning Ltd
Education Perfect
The Better Packaging Co
The Co-operative Bank
Raglan Food Co Limited
The Hello Cup Company
Chia Sisters
Just Add Lime
Write Limited
D3 Digital Limited
Untouched World
Kiwibank Limited
GravityLab Ltd
NEO Leaders Limited
Emma Lewisham
Orba Shoes
Manukora Ltd
Carbonclick Ltd
twiice New Zealand Ltd
Owen River Lodge
Greenfern Industries
Tax Traders
Boma New Zealand
Stuff Ltd
Kowtow clothing Ltd
Pic’s Peanut Butter
Wild Clean
Workplace Assessment & Solutions Limited (WPAAS)
The Whole Story
Zay Ltd
Food Nation
Heilala Vanilla
Gourmate Pet Treat Co.
Good Sense
Maggie Marilyn
Scafit Ltd
MoneyWorks NZ Ltd
Ozone Coffee Roasters Intnl
DNA Design
Optimal Workshop
Taylor Pass Honey Co
Volpara Health Technologies Ltd
Karma Drinks
Blue Frog Breakfast
Tuhoe Tuawhenua Trust T/A Manawa Honey NZ
Tennent Brown Architects
Almighty Beverages
Te Rehe Group Limited
NSPR Limited
Gemelli Consulting
Ceres Organics
Tiraki Ltd
NZ Native Honey Products
Sustained Fun
Wright Communications
Not Another


Here at Grow Good, it’s our job to help businesses become B Corp certified. Because the process can be confusing and daunting. We translate it, break it down, offer resources to make it as manageable as possible. If your business is ready to go B Corp, give us a shout or book in a discovery call.

Kia kaha



Are you Ready to B Better?

Don’t wait to be a better business, get on with it now. The planet depends on it.

Feeling like you’re ready to B Better and want to see if we can help? Well then let’s have a chat! Book a call here –