This week marks the third anniversary of the launch of Goldman Sachs’ JUST ETF. The fund tracks our Rankings-based JULCD Index, which we’re happy to report has both outperformed the Russell 1000 cumulatively by 6.17% since inception and showed genuine impact. Of course, much has changed over this time, as MUFG’s excellent recent report, “ESG’s Acceleration,” shows. For anyone seeking a comprehensive breakdown of the critical themes shaping the landscape today, look no further.
Their analysis of the 435 ESG resolutions of this year’s proxy season was especially revealing, in that it showed the range of issues investors were most concerned about and a surprising degree of alignment with our polling results on the priorities of the public.
Corporate political activity (lobbying, etc), climate, human capital issues – notably workplace diversity – and human rights stand out. And whereas the climate campaigns at ExxonMobil and Chevron understandably garnered most of the press, the less heralded shareholder votes in support of releasing EEO-1 diversity data at DuPont, board diversity requirements at Expeditors, arbitration policy transparency at Chipotle, and political spending transparency at McKesson and Omicon Group perhaps signal where investor activism is now headed.
We have oft noted that as shareholder demand for action on human capital and DEI metrics rises, so attention will focus on the need for better data and standards, and greater performance transparency overall. We stressed this in our public comment submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission this week. Overall, it feels we may be entering a new worker paradigm, where we either listen to, reward, and value people appropriately, or we continue the slide toward division and discord. Humanity at work is a powerful thing (as fans of Undercover Boss will attest), but ultimately, it just makes good business sense.
Speaking of listening to workers, it was corporations like Allstate, Nike, and Target that acknowledged the wishes of their workforces last year and made Juneteenth – a day that celebrates the end of slavery in America – a company holiday. We did the same, and are happy to see with the passing of a law on Thursday that the entire country will be honoring a historic moment with a day of celebration, too.
This Week in Stakeholder Capitalism
GE announces new partnerships to advance wind turbine recycling technology in order to make it a more viable portion of its business.
General Motors is investing 30% more into electric vehicle production and working on building additional battery plants.
Fifth Third Bancorp is committing $2.8 billion to an equity and inclusion initiative.
Microsoft releases a progress update on its racial equity commitments, showing where the company has invested in Black communities in the U.S.
Morgan Stanley launches a toolkit as part of its Impact Investing Platform to help users invest in companies and products with a racial equity and social justice lens.
PwC aims to increase its employee count by 100,000 over the next five years, with much of the increase involving building out corporate ESG expertise.
What’s Happening at JUST
June 24th at 1PM ET: Join JUST Capital and the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program to discuss how private sector leaders can advance racial equity within their companies, communities, and regional economies, featuring speakers from CenterState, Cincinnati U.S. Regional Chamber, and Brookings Institute. Sign up to attend here.
New Yorkers celebrating Juneteenth last year. (Michael Noble Jr./Getty Images)
“This is an opportunity just to sit down and talk. Get it straight from the employees – get their thoughts, their feelings, what it means to them. … That’s the spirit of Juneteenth. It’s about reflection, it’s about getting together and talking about what you’ve been through, what you’re going through, what you want to do. … It’s about celebrating everybody’s history, everybody’s contribution.”
- Cliff Robinson, founder of Juneteenth.com, to JUST, on how companies can embrace the day. Robinson launched his resource center in 1997. “And from that day on, it’s been a dream to have a national holiday,” he said.
“When businesses act ethically and make a meaningful impact on society, they can create bigger and more sustained outcomes for themselves and their people and broader stakeholders. If the past year has taught us anything, it is that embedding ESG into an organization’s core can be a significant part of reducing the risks and gaining opportunity.”
- Tim Ryan, PwC US chair and senior partner to JUST, following the company’s “New Equation” strategic overhaul, which includes a 3-year, $300 million “Tomorrow Takes Trust” initiative.
“It has been a paltry number, even the pipeline is paltry today. So there’s a lot of work that has to be done for African American women or for Black women anywhere in the world.”
- Ursula Burns, former Xerox CEO on CNBC, on the need for a better talent pipeline for Black women in executive positions.
Must-Reads of the Week
The Financial Times reports on one of the biggest stories coming out of the G7 summit – that G7 countries are formulating a “green belt and road” plan to counter China’s influence, with the hopes of investing billions in green energy in developing countries.
Axios discusses the upcoming “great resignation,” with polling showing that 25% to 40% of workers are considering leaving their jobs.
The Wall Street Journal takes a deeper look at the future of workplace benefits as hybrid work becomes the new normal for many companies.
Morgan Stanley takes a hard look at how the pandemic has set the stage for an inflation surgeand hotter, but shorter, economic growth cycles (reposted via Zero Hedge).
The New York Times reveals the results of a months-long investigation into worker issues at an Amazon warehouse in New York. One surprising stat: “Even before the pandemic, previously unreported data shows, Amazon lost about 3 percent of its hourly associates each week, meaning the turnover among its work force was roughly 150 percent a year. That rate, almost double that of the retail and logistics industries, has made some executives worry about running out of workers across America.”
Chart of the Week
For the three-year anniversary of the JUST ETF, we take a look back at the performance of the JULCD Index that the ETF seeks to track, showing that it has outperformed the Russell 1000 cumulatively by 6.17% since its inception (Dec. 1, 2016 to May 28, 2021). Learn more here.