Earlier this year, the Business Roundtable – an association of the chief executive officers of nearly 200 of America’s largest and most influential companies – released a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation. After 22 years of endorsing shareholder primacy – in which corporations exist principally to serve shareholders – the organization committed to a new ethos in which the purpose of a corporation is to benefit all stakeholders, including workers, customers, communities, and more.
From Tricia Griffith, president and CEO of Progressive Corporation: “Profits are key, but that’s not the sole focus of the best-run companies. They put the customer first and invest in their employees and communities. In the end, it’s the most promising way to build long-term value.”
The Business Roundtable’s move is a huge deal, and there are lots of questions around what it might look like to put this new vision into action. For example, how would you know if a company truly was committed to supporting communities? What might the world look like if a shift to putting workers, customers, and communities first happened?
With community investment, as with all other stakeholder commitments, there are no prescriptions or guarantees. It’s up to each company to determine its course and, more importantly, to take action.
Here are six companies that have done exactly that, providing clear examples of what it looks like to support the communities in which they work.
1. Microsoft Invests $500 Million into Affordable Housing in the Seattle Area
Overall JUST Capital Rank: 1
Microsoft made headlines in January 2019 for investing $500 million into affordable housing in the Seattle area, which is home to both Microsoft and Amazon. Microsoft’s investment is the most ambitious effort by a tech company to date to address the inequality that has spread in communities where the industry is concentrated.
New construction will be a mix of homes affordable not only to the company’s non-tech workers, but also to teachers, firefighters, and other middle- and low-income residents.
As part of the investment, the company plans to lend $225 million at subsidized rates to preserve and build housing in six cities surrounding its Redmond, Washington headquarters, and it pledges $250 million toward low-income housing across the region. The remaining $25 million will be grants for local organizations that work with the homeless, one issue in particular being legal aid for people fighting eviction.
2. Google Pledges to Invest $1 Billion in East Bay Area Housing Crisis
Overall JUST Capital Rank: 3
In another effort to address the affordable housing shortage, Google (parent company, Alphabet) has pledged to invest $1 billion in land and money to build homes in the San Francisco area. As part of the plan, the company will repurpose at least $750 million worth of commercially zoned property that it owns over the next 10 years, working with local governments to allow developers to lease the land and build homes.
Google also intends to create a $250 million investment fund to provide incentives for developers to create more affordable homes in the area.
3. Prudential Financial Will Invest $180 Million to Support Opportunity Youth
Overall JUST Capital Rank: 24
Prudential Financial is committing more than $180 million through 2025 to support young people ages 15 to 29 worldwide who lack access to school, training, or regular jobs.
“Businesses like ours have a role to play in ensuring that global economic progress benefits all members of tomorrow’s workforce,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO Charles Lowrey in a press release from the company. “Our goal is to improve young people’s lives by creating pathways for them to achieve financial wellness, strengthen their communities, and ultimately help drive the global economy,”
The money will help young people across the globe – a population often referred to as opportunity youth – gain the right skills to compete for and succeed in quality jobs. This population segment, which accounts for 350 million people, represents untapped potential for the future workforce.
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4. Salesforce Puts Up $18.2 Million to Support Bay Area Schools
Overall JUST Capital Rank: 29
Salesforce recently announced $18.2 million in grants to the San Francisco and Oakland school districts and education nonprofits to expand educational opportunities for students and leaders in the Bay Area.
The money, in part, will help develop new science curriculum, begin college preparation for first-generation college students as early as middle school, provide pathways for non-teaching staff in Oakland to acquire teaching credentials, and support the housing, food, legal, and medical needs of students new to the United States. Salesforce employees also have pledged 100,000 volunteer hours in education for the current school year.
With this announcement, the software company’s global education investment now totals more than $90 million.
5. JPMorgan Chase Invests $20 Billion to Help Its Employees and Support Local Economic Growth
Overall JUST Capital Rank: 111
In January 2018, JPMorgan Chase announced a $20 billion, five-year comprehensive investment to help its employees and support job and local economic growth in the United States. The initiative will include the following:
- Wages will increase 10% on average – ranging from between $15 and $18 per hour – for 22,000 employees.
- Opening 400 branches in new markets, leading to increased small business lending and philanthropic investments, plus more support for local low-and moderate-income communities.
- Increasing community-based philanthropic investments by 40% to $1.75 billion over five years.
- Increasing small business lending by $4 billion.
- Accelerating affordable housing lending by (a) increasing mortgage lending in low-and moderate-income communities and (b) accelerating commercial lending to build affordable housing.
6. CVS Health Launches $50 Million Campaign to Curb the Rise of Teen Vaping
Overall JUST Capital Rank: 198
Earlier this summer, CVS Health announced a new $50 million campaign to help stop teen vaping and create the first tobacco-free generation. Part of the money will go toward the following:
- Creating digital curriculum resources and engaging content to help middle and high school students learn about the risks of e-cigarette use.
- Support for #ThisIsQuitting, a text message program developed by Truth Initiative that offers young people a free, confidential, and anonymous way to access behavioral and peer-to-peer social support to quit vaping.
- Provide family clinicians with the resources they need to appropriately counsel young patients on the dangers of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).
Stopping teen vaping isn’t the only cause CVS Health supports. The company – in association with Aetna, which CVS acquired in 2018 – also recently launched the Building Healthier Communities initiative, a five-year, $100-million commitment to support critical programs and partnerships with local and national nonprofit organizations.
The campaign includes no-cost health assessments to underserved and underinsured communities, grants to more than 100 free clinics and community health centers, and funding to organizations working on issues such as cancer, diabetes, and opioid abuse.