Kaiser launches employee ownership initiative for suppliers

Kaiser Permanente has partnered with Project Equity and Obran Cooperative to create an employee ownership joint initiative.

The Oakland, Calif.-based health system announced the initiative April 27 in a statement shared with Becker's, saying the program is designed "to help small businesses struggling as a result of the pandemic and to help rebuild and reinforce the communities in which they operate." 

"Through this partnership, supplier companies are invited to consider various potential pathways to employee ownership: an independent transition supported by Project Equity or a conversion via acquisition by Obran Cooperative," the health system said.

Business Resiliency through Employee Ownership provides education to Kaiser's suppliers about employee ownership and supports supplier companies in transitioning to an employee ownership model, the health system said. Kaiser said it has contacted 3,200 of its suppliers, all of which are run by people of color or other underrepresented groups to discuss the benefits of becoming employee-owned.

"As a large organization in our communities, we have an opportunity to drive wealth and health," Ije-enu N. Udeze Nwosu, executive director of Kaiser Permanente’s impact spending program, said in an April 26 post on the health system's website. "By focusing on our vast supplier network and using our significant purchasing power to encourage and support employee-owned businesses, we can address economic, racial, and environmental inequities and contribute to the success and resilience of our communities."

Courier Corp., one of Kaiser's suppliers, is among the suppliers transitioning to employee ownership via the initiative. The company is based in Honolulu and provides shipping services, pickup and delivery.

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