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The JUST Report: Communities Are A Stakeholder, Not A Box To Check  

(Bowie State University)

This week we wrapped our last deep dive into our Corporate Racial Equity Tracker with a look at how companies have invested in communities of color (as a reminder, we found in our survey research with The Harris Poll that a whopping 90% of Black Americans and 78% of respondents overall believe this is important for following through on commitments to racial equity).

We looked in particular at whether companies disclosed policies on supplier diversity, local sourcing, and school funding, and found that some 26 of the 100 largest public companies by workforce size disclosed all three. A common feature of the 26 – which includes GM, Target, and UPS – was the way they’ve deliberately considered each element as something that not only benefits the communities in which they operate, but that also has direct business benefits. That is, they recognize communities as a stakeholder in their business.

Target, for example, has committed to investing $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025 and works with the United Negro College Fund on its Target Scholars Program.

This all comes at a time when questions are being asked about where exactly America’s largest public companies have put their billions of dollars in commitments to racial justice, particularly concerning homeownership, Black-owned banks, criminal justice reform, and education. In our interview with them on this subject, Dartmouth Tuck School of Business’ Ella Bell Smith and the University of Pretoria’s Stella M. Nkomo told us that after years spent studying corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion, the overall progress over the past two decades can be disheartening, but they are maintaining hope.

“If you truly understand that this is a different time, instead of waiting for government to legislate, take the lead,” Nkomo said. “Now’s the time to be very clear about who you are as a company.”

Smith and Nkomo both noted that some companies have been used to “checking the box” of DEI with philanthropic donations and community investment, but that real change only happens when companies fully embed equity into their business practices and integrate measures of accountability. It’s not about “kumbaya” moments, as Smith said, but about seeing the racial equity component to each of your stakeholders.

Be well,
Martin Whittaker

This Week in Stakeholder Capitalism

Airbnb announces it will house 20,000 Afghan refugees around the world, primarily through its nonprofit Airbnb.org.

Apple has created a green energy impact accelerator that will work with 15 Black-owned businesses to help advance racial equity at the forefront of clean technology.

Delta will begin charging unvaccinated employees an additional $200 a month for their health insurance plan until they are vaccinated.

GM is taking a $1 billion loss and expanding the recall of the Chevy Bolt, after it was determined the electric vehicle’s battery pack was a fire risk.

Tyson Foods is offering $10K giveaways to its factory employees as incentive to become vaccinated.

Walmart joins the corporate response to the current conflict in Afghanistan, supporting veterans and Afghan refugees with a $1 million commitment to several nonprofits.

 

JUST Events

SEPTEMBER 9: Lorraine Wilson joins 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. The conversation will cover the challenges financial advisors face in initiating ESG conversations with their clients and ways in which the industry can improve. Sign up to watch live here.

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

What’s Happening at JUST

JUST, and our partners from the Worker Financial Wellness Initiative, were prominently featured in this CNBC feature discussing how the SEC and ESG advocates want to know how well companies are treating their workers. JUST data was also included in this robust report from the Center for American Progress advocating why it’s time for the SEC to require more specific human capital disclosures from companies.

The Forum

(Revolution)

“We have visited more than 40 cities on our Rise of the Rest bus tours to date. In each city, we emphasize the importance for corporations to support the full range of diverse entrepreneurship in their communities, as it really strengthens the entire ecosystem. It’s great to see these major companies looking to support diverse local businesses not only as suppliers and contractors but also look to the new class of diverse tech entrepreneurs as customers and partners. One of our Equity Tour winners, Dallas-based Kanarys, a tech platform focused on DEI efforts, has received significant traction in their native Dallas community by groups like the City of Dallas, AT&T, and Neiman Marcus.”

“Middle management – they get stuck. The women get stuck and it is really hard for the guys and gals at the top of the organization to really influence unless there is accountability. And that’s an important word here: accountability.”

  • Ella Bell Smith, professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, to JUST on why even though diversity in the C-suite and on the board is important, systemic change is impossible without the same intentionality brought to middle management.

“My view of things is, business is personal. A lot of times people say, ‘it’s not you, it’s just business,’ but I don’t buy it. People need to be able to look into your eyes and trust you.”

 

Must-Reads of the Week

The Washington Post takes a deep dive into some of America’s largest companies to see how much of the money pledged for racial equity initiatives made in the wake of George Floyd’s murder has actually been dispersed, and where it has gone. Be sure to explore our Corporate Racial Equity Tracker for more insights on what corporate America has been doing.

Fortune reports on a PwC survey showing that the percentage of U.S. workers looking for a new job has climbed to 65%. Meanwhile, NBC News shows that while workers are taking advantage of their current demand, their bargaining power is not the same across industries.

CNBC discusses the fact that, though millennial women want remote work, they feel they’ll be passed up for opportunities if they’re not in the office.

The Washington Center for Equitable Growth examines the disruptions in childcare many working mothers and families faced during COVID, and lays out the case for why the U.S. needs to make more investments into paid leave and care infrastructure.

Forbes takes a close look at how Big Tech managed to secretly secure $800 million in tax breaks for their data centers, with local governments unable to explore the impacts on revenue or on the environment from the amount of power the centers need.

Chart of the Week

This chart comes from our latest report on community investment, exploring data from the Corporate Racial Equity Tracker, showing how many of the 100 largest U.S. employers are investing in their communities by sourcing from minority-owned (84) and local (34) businesses, and funding local schools and scholarship programs (65). Just 26 of these 100 companies disclose all three policies and practices. Learn more here.

Have questions about our research and rankings?  We want to hear from you!