Memo to Corporate America: Pay more. Treat people better.

Thomas Heath (Washington Post) | Nov. 30,2016

Pay, benefits and how well companies respect their employees are the biggest concerns for most American workers, according to a list of companies released Wednesday by Forbes Media based on research conducted by JUST Capital, a nonprofit chaired by hedge fund mogul Paul Tudor Jones II.

Americans remain positive about business, according to the survey, even though they trust big corporations less now than they did a decade ago.

Corporate behavior has drawn more and more scrutiny. An overwhelming number of Americans take a company’s reputation into account when they buy its stuff, use its services, apply for jobs and even when acquiring a company’s stocks or bonds.

It’s also poised to be front and center as president-elect Donald Trump brings a sharply pro-business tack to American politics. Trump has named several high-profile business people, including Steven Mnuchin (Treasury), Wilbur Ross (Commerce) and Elaine Chao (Transportation), to his Cabinet.

The study conducted by JUST and released by Forbes is its version of the U.S. News & World Report rankings, which ranks hospitals, colleges and professional schools, among others.

“JUST Capital started with the question ‘What if we could see which companies use their capital not simply to maximize profits, but to create a more just marketplace for all stakeholders?’”Jones said in a news release. “And today, we can see that some of the biggest companies in America – some of the most important companies in the world – are doing that, at a huge scale.” 

The JUST Capital Foundation is an independent nonprofit founded by Jones, Deepak Chopra and others. The foundation’s board includes Ray Chambers, Jeff Walker, Marc Morial, Ann Veneman, Dan Hesse and Arianna Huffington.

Some conclusions are not surprising: Conservatives care most about U.S. job creation. Liberals favor fair pay.

But others are more unexpected: Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers (ages 35 to 64) care most about pay. Millennials care most that companies do not discriminate in any way, shape or form when hiring, firing and promoting.

The purpose of the poll was to learn specifically how Americans define a “just” company,  said Martin Whittaker, the chief executive of JUST Capital.

He said the poll accurately reflects America’s broad view of business because it included more than 50,000 people, and was balanced with the U.S. Census.

“The number one issue, by far, across all demographic roups is paying a fair wage,” Whittaker said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “That was the number one thing — no matter how much money you made, no matter how you vote, no matter how old you are.”

The companies are ranked in order, based on industries, according to several criteria: providing fair pay for the industry and job level; not discriminating in hiring, firing and promotion; providing a safe workplace; following laws and regulations; respecting workers; and creating jobs in the United States.

The JUST 100 names the “most just” companies in 32 major industries, from autos (Ford) to capital markets (Legg Mason), consumer services (Marriott International)  to food and beverage (PepsiCo).

The 2016 most just companies in America within 32 major industries are (in alphabetical order by industry):

  • Aerospace & Defense: Rockwell Collins
  • Automobile & Components: Ford Motor
  • Banks: SVB Financial
  • Capital Goods: Fluor
  • Capital Markets: Legg Mason
  • Chemicals: Eastman Chemical
  • Commercial & Professional Services: Verisk Analytics
  • Consumer & Diversified Finance: American Express
  • Consumer Durables & Apparel: Whirlpool
  • Consumer Services: Marriott International
  • Energy Equipment & Services: Oceaneering International
  • Food & Staples Retailing: Sysco
  • Food, Beverage, & Tobacco: PepsiCo
  • Healthcare Equipment & Services: Varian Medical Systems
  • Healthcare Providers & Services: Humana
  • Household & Personal Products: Colgate-Palmolive
  • Insurance: XL Group
  • Internet Software & Services: Alphabet
  • Information Technology Services: Accenture
  • Machinery: Cummins
  • Materials: Freeport-McMoRan
  • Media: Discovery Communications
  • Oil, Gas, & Consumable Fuels: Pioneer Natural Resources
  • Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology & Life Sciences: Amgen
  • Real Estate: Jones Lang LaSalle
  • Retailing: CarMax
  • Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment: NVIDIA
  • Software: Microsoft
  • Technology Hardware & Equipment: F5 Networks
  • Telecommunications: AT&T
  • Transportation: Southwest Airlines
  • Utilities: Exelon

According to a news release accompanying the findings, JUST Capital partnered with NORC at the University of Chicago to do the survey. They looked at nearly 900 publicly traded companies. Their methodology is available online.