​​​​​The JUST Report: Why Childcare is a Business Imperative

(Hill Street Studios – Getty Images)

We are in a critical moment for considering what it means to be a working parent, especially a working mom, in this country.

In a new survey with our partner the Harris Poll, we found that over the past year and a half of the pandemic, the majority of respondents have become painfully aware of the high cost of child care. Of those respondents, 41% said they or someone they know missed work to care for their kids, and 36% said they or someone they know left their job or switched to part-time work for the same reason.

Majorities agreed that companies have a responsibility to take care of the parents in their workforces through all nine benefits mentioned, including part-time or job-sharing opportunities (69%), flexible work schedules (68%), and discounted or subsidized caregiving like after-school care (58%).

There was also strong agreement on the need for public support, with a massive 78% in favor of a federal 12-week paid leave policy that employees could use to take care of not just children, but also a sick spouse or parent. This is interesting, given Congress yesterday marked up legislation supporting universal paid family leave.

Business leaders continue to grapple with this. Some have called for passing federal leave programs, including engaging in the dialogue in Congress about federal paid family leave policies. Leaders of companies like Etsy, Gap, Chobani, and Patagonia met recently with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss child care, and a separate coalition of 300 companies – including Danone North America, Levi Strauss & Co., Pinterest, and Salesforce –has come out in support of passing paid leave in the spending bill.

Julie Kashen of the Century Foundation is a major proponent of passing both child care and paid leave policies, and in an interview with JUST pointed to 2019 research showing that $57 billion in earnings, productivity, and revenue is lost each year due to a lack of child care guarantees. “I think that became even more evident, and gave employers more of a stake in this, after the pandemic,” she said.

Be well,
Martin Whittaker

P.S. I want to encourage everyone to sign up for our event with Deepak Chopra next Thursday, September 16th at 4:30 p.m. ET as we celebrate naming him Chairman Emeritus and launch the Deepak Chopra Scholars Fund in his honor – find details below. The mission of JUST was sparked in the class Deepak taught at Columbia Business School years ago, and we’d love for you to join us in carrying on his vision.

This Week in Stakeholder Capitalism

Amazon announces it will offer to pay 100% of college tuition for its 750,000 U.S. hourly employees starting in January 2022, covering tuition, fees, and textbooks.

Labcorp is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Google commits to be water positive, replenishing more water than it consumes by 2030.

Nike shareholders will vote on a proposal requesting disclosure around the company’s work to promote diversity and inclusion, a move that’s seen as long overdue.

Walmart phases out its decades-old quarterly bonuses for store workers as it implements hourly wage increases for hundreds of thousands of its employees.


JUST Events

Thursday, September 16 from 4:30PM – 5:30PM EST: We are thrilled to bestow the honor of Chairman Emeritus on JUST Capital Co-Founder Deepak Chopra, and as a fitting way to continue his legacy at JUST, we will be establishing the Deepak Chopra Scholars Fund to support the next generation of leaders through our internship program. The live virtual event will feature a conversation with Martin and Deepak, as well as a special performance! Register here and make a contribution to support the Deepak Chopra Scholars Fund today! We hope you can join us!

SEPTEMBER 15: Worker Financial Wellness: How Corporations Can Build Quality Jobs Improving workers’ financial wellness is good for both employees AND employers. See how companies participating in our Worker Financial Wellness Initiative – including Chipotle, Prudential Financial, and PayPal – are making their employees’ well-being a corporate priority. Hosted by the Aspen Institute and moderated by Lauren Weber from The Wall Street Journal. RSVP here.

SEPTEMBER 21: Quarterly JUST Call with HP CEO Enrique Lores                                    
Join us for the latest installment of the Quarterly JUST Call (QJC) with HP CEO Enrique Lores. HP is a JUST 100 company that under Lores’ leadership has created value for shareholders while excelling on climate action, diversity and inclusion, and digital equity. JUST CEO Martin Whittaker will explore each of these areas with Lores, and, since it is timed with Climate Week, pay special attention to HP’s latest environmental sustainability efforts. Sign up for the Quarterly JUST Call here.

What’s Happening at JUST

While there has been plenty of hand wringing about a potential labor shortage​​, one discussion has received little attention: If we want people to head back to work, we should pay them a living wage. Read more in this Fortune editorial by Alison Omens and Amy Glasmeier, creator of the Living Wage Calculator, and check out our living wage explainer to learn more about what it is and why it’s so important to the dialogue today.

LinkedIn’s Editors also presented a round-up of related posts showcasing how more leaders are eyeing financial wellness. On a related theme, a fascinating new ESG survey of retail investors showcased in Marketwatch, showed that respondents cared much more about fair wages for workers than environmental issues, demonstrating another key reason why companies should be investing in their most important asset, their workers.

JUST spoke with Jon Hale, Global Head of Sustainability at Morningstar, and Zach Conway, CEO of Seeds Investor, to discuss the ways both firms are providing data-driven insights to help financial advisors and end investors make more sustainable investing decisions. Watch the full conversation here.

Martin appeared on The Conscious Capitalists podcast to talk about our polling of the American public, what issues Americans have top of mind when it comes to work, and what business needs to do to reclaim worker trust.

The Forum

“I do think that overall there’s support for these particular policies and an understanding that it’s good for children and families, it’s good for racial and gender equity, and it happens to also be good for businesses and the economy. It’s rare for there to be these policies that really can be such a win for all.”

  • Julie Kashen, Director of Women’s Economic Justice at the Century Foundation, in an interview with JUST about child care and paid leave policy

“This is a simple exercise, in many ways, to demonstrate an important point, which is that the gains to GDP are for everyone and closing the gaps isn’t a zero-sum game. It’s not just that we’re rearranging distributionally the proceeds from the same-sized pie, we’re actually improving the size of the pie and then distributing the proceeds from that improvement, so that’s a different game than what many people think about when they think about equity.”

  • San Francisco Federal Reserve President Mary Daly, talking to reporters about the release of a new paper showing that inequality has cost the U.S. nearly $23 trillion since 1990.

“We have contingency plans to respond to many different types of events, including an activist investor. We engage regularly with shareholders in constructive two-way dialogue and look forward to discussing the next chapter of our lower carbon story with them later this month.”


Must-Reads of the Week

Bloomberg reports on a new study published by Brookings, showing that inequality in employment, education, and earnings has cost the U.S. economy nearly $23 trillion over the past 30 years, a sum that is likely to increase as minority populations expand.

Andrew Winston and Paul Polman encourage companies in an editorial in MIT Sloan Management Review to back up their lofty statements on climate change with policy advocacyand holding their trade associations accountable, citing recent research from Ceres. Stay tuned for their new book “Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take,” coming out in October.

Maggie McGrath of ForbesWomen highlights new survey data showing two-thirds of college-educated workers may avoid Texas because of the abortion ban. Fortune’s Broadsheet asks if major companies will start responding to the new Texas law, or whether this is one of the issues that the business community will continue to remain silent on.

CNN reveals that the average U.S worker is both older and more diverse compared to 40-years ago. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that this crop of workers is also changing jobs more often – and demanding higher wages – as the pandemic recedes.

Axios reports on the scale of Delta concerns: 3.2 million Americans said they were not working because they were “concerned about getting or spreading the coronavirus,” in the Census Household Pulse Survey, up from 2.5 million in July.

Chart of the Week

This chart comes from the National Women’s Law Center, showing female unemployment by race over the last year and a half. Read the full report for more insights on female employment through COVID-19.


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