Thousands of workers across North Carolina are finding that out as they learn to think like owners as a growing number of companies share profits and stock with them. Your company not with the program? Don’t worry. There’s room for more, according to a new report by the Budget and Tax Center, a progressive agency in Raleigh.

Employee stock ownership plans and other types of programs allow workers to even the gap between their earnings and management salaries, improve their companies through pride of ownership and build substantial retirement accounts. “It makes me feel good to be in an organization where you can be genuine with your brothers and sisters,” said Cassandra Brown, the executive director of housekeeping for Greensboro-based Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels, which began an employee stock ownership program in 2016.

The Budget and Tax Center, report says that $4.4 billion was paid to worker “cooperatives” involving at least 100 companies and 750,000 current and former workers, according to 2013 data. Employee ownership programs vary widely. Some are retirement programs that deposit shares into accounts based on a company’s annual profits. Others give workers a strong influence through a democratic structure.

Read more: For these workers in Greensboro, they don’t have to fight The Man — they are The Man | Local Business |