Why we are proud to be member-owners
Last week, Big Duck officially transitioned to a worker-owned cooperative. At the time of this transition, all of Big Duck’s full-time staff joined as member-owners, and some are now on our newly-formed board! As member-owners, staff have more power in guiding how Big Duck operates and an equal share in the company’s profits, regardless of their role, seniority, or tenure.
With this transition and move to sharing power, we also shifted from one CEO (formerly our fearless founder, Sarah Durham) to two company co-directors (that’s us!), Elizabeth Ricca (formerly our Chief Operating Officer) and Farra Trompeter (formerly our Chief Growth Officer). We have each been working at Big Duck for over 14 years and joined Sarah as business partners in 2019. It’ll be our job to work together with fellow member-owners and Big Duck’s board to make sure that Big Duck is a healthy, thriving company.
In considering various options for what the next phase of Big Duck could look like, becoming a worker-owned cooperative emerged as the obvious choice. We appreciate the way that the worker-owned model challenges the capitalist system in which we operate, the way it pushes us to examine and distribute different forms of power, and the way it puts workers’ rights and experiences at the center.
We’re deeply grateful to the many advisors and supporters who made our business conversion possible, including our partners at the ICA Group, who helped navigate every step of the planning process; to Sam Gray, our patient and knowledgeable lawyer; and to the Owner to Owners initiative of the NYC City Council, which funds experts to support employee ownership transitions for NYC businesses.
And we are excited to make this journey with an incredible team, inspiring clients, and impressive partners. Speaking of our awesome team, here they are! We asked each of them to share their thoughts on why they are excited to become a member-owner and help lead our co-op.
I’m proud to become a part of a growing, global movement of worker-owned businesses. It’s a meaningful step in living out values of community care, democratic decision-making, and economic justice in our day-to-day operations.
It’s meaningful to me to return power and opportunity to those actively performing the labor, and to disrupt the harmful, top-down structure corporations have relied on for decades. Big Duck recognizes that change begins within, and I’m so excited to help influence other agencies through our internal work.
Marissa Lea Gaston
It is a privilege to belong to a workplace whose values align with my own–particularly, rethinking our participation in/relationship to capitalism and opting instead for collective, shared power structures. I’m excited to see how this transition positively impacts our work, clients, the sector at large, and beyond.
We live in a world in which it sometimes feels like things never really change. I’m excited about the opportunity to shake up my relationship with work and what it means to be invested in my career.
I’m excited to be a part of this transformation to become closer to our ideals and values, and that we as member-owners will have a greater and more equitable say in how we do our work and run our business.
I’m so grateful to be a part of something that most people don’t have the privilege of experiencing. Big Duck has been a home for me in many ways over the years, and I’m excited to play a more active role to help shape our work and future.
I am thrilled to be a member-owner, and I’m excited to share power with my colleagues as we shape the future of our company together.
I feel lucky to be part of a collective of talented, humble individuals at a people-centered company driven by values and not just profit. As a Black woman, it’s a life-changing opportunity.
Claire Taylor Hansen
Like many, I feel deeply frustrated with the systemic inequality in our society, and I’m aware of the role capitalism plays in building and sustaining the status quo. I’m motivated to be part of a collective that’s defining a fairer model of an inclusive and productive workplace.
The future we want to create will take radical disruption and imagination on all of our parts. I’m so excited my workplace is showing meaningful investment in getting there. Cheers to sharing power equitably.
Becoming a member-owner in a co-op is 100% in line with my ethos and commitment to building collective worker power and resisting capitalism. I’m so excited for all of us to embark on this journey together. Solidarity forever!
I see worker-owned co-ops as a more positive, more ethical way of doing business, where we redistribute power and work towards a common goal. I’m thrilled to embark on this new journey in partnership with my colleagues at Big Duck and for us to be a model for other companies.
If you’re interested to hear more about Big Duck’s decision to become a co-op or ask us more about it, please join us from 2-3pm ET on Wednesday, November 10 for a discussion on Zoom.