Five years ago I stood on the balcony of the New York Stock Exchange alongside JUST’s chair and co-founder Paul Tudor Jones to ring the exchange’s opening bell and, together with representatives of the JUST team and board, our friends and partners from Goldman Sachs and FTSE Russell, and many other donors and investors, celebrate the launch of the JUST ETF (NYSE: JUST). It was a defining moment for our organization that put us firmly on the map as a force for change.
The JUST ETF, and the index on which it is based – the JUST U.S. Large-Cap Diversified Index (JULCD), which tracks the top 50% of companies ranked by JUST Capital across all industry sectors – have since delivered both competitive risk-adjusted returns and concrete, measurable impacts that better the lives of millions of everyday, hard-working Americans. To the best of my knowledge, the funds supported by JUST Capital (including the JUST ETF, the Sustainable Impact Investing UIT with SmartTrust and Argus Research, Natixis AIA Racial Equity Direct Index Fund, and a suite of SMAs alongside USA Financial) remain the only publicly traded investment products available today that are expressly designed and built around the priorities of the American people. Five years ago, this seemed like a radical idea. In today’s world – where divisions seem to define us and where the future of capitalism itself appears to be in doubt – I believe it offers a beacon of hope.
Why? Let’s start with performance. Every investment product needs to deliver financially. Inception-to-date, the JULCD Index has outperformed the Russell 1000 by 8.78% since it launched in December 2016. This puts to bed the notion that companies focused on creating value for stakeholders do so only to the detriment of their shareholders.
In fact, we’ve found the opposite is true. Maximizing stakeholder value maximizes shareholder value. And it’s not just the JUST ETF where we see that happening. The JUST 100 (JUONE) Index, which comprises the top 100 companies in our ranking overall, has outperformed its benchmark by 0.25% since its launch in March 2019 through June 26, 2023. Similarly, our thematic index concepts – which feature the companies scoring in the top 20% of our Rankings on key stakeholder issues issues from wages to job creation to climate change – have consistently outperformed the Russell 1000, with alpha ranging between 3.6% to 19.1%.
Second is impact. The companies included in the JUST ETF outperform their peers in tangible, measurable ways on things like paying a living wage, creating more jobs in America, and providing critical benefits like paid parental leave. They support local communities by prioritizing local sourcing and second chance hiring. They invest more in employee training, engagement, and representation. They are further ahead on managing environmental impacts. They are generally better governed and better managed. This is not a matter of subjective opinion or black box evaluations. It’s what the data shows. And since we don’t pretend to have everything measured perfectly, and are constantly seeking to improve, we make everything fully transparent so you (and the companies we track) can see everything for yourselves.
This latter point is crucial. One of the keys to the success of JUST’s work, I believe, has been the level of interaction we have with the companies we cover. In producing the current 2023 Rankings, for example, we connected with 573 of America’s largest corporations (up 296% since 2017) and had 350 companies review their data via our online portal (up 373% since 2017). For a small nonprofit, this is an extraordinary achievement.
Finally, there’s the voice of the public. When we first conceived of the JUST Rankings, we decided – against some not-inconsiderable skepticism – that we would take a leap of faith and ask the public (on a fully representative basis) to determine what criteria constitute just company behavior, and how those criteria should be weighted when comparing companies head-to-head. They didn’t let us down. For not only are the issues identified rooted in authentic, kitchen-table themes that strike to the very heart of our national identity, we find tremendous agreement again and again across demographic, political, economic, and regional lines. Expanding this approach to other countries and regions would provide a fascinating insight into how public interest and business behavior can truly align.
Put all this together, and you have the makings of a system that delivers growth, generates strong returns for investors, and creates value for all stakeholders on a sustainable basis. It is the way businesses today compete and win – a North Star, if you will, by which CEOs and Boards navigate the complexities of the present and future business environment. In the Business Roundtable’s parlance, it is the purpose of a corporation. More than all of this, it represents a serious vision for cutting through broken politics to restore faith in the belief that business and free market capitalism can in fact function in greater service of the populations that they serve.
The Investor Solutions team at JUST Capital continues to expand the suite of products tracking our in-depth company research and polling of the American public. We firmly believe that together we can create a more just and equitable marketplace that works for all Americans. Please reach out using this request form below if you have an interest in partnering with us to launch your next innovative large-cap public equity or fixed income strategy.
Note: Tracking Error of JUST ETF vs JUST U.S Large Cap Diversified (JULCD) Index is 0.1 as of March 31 2023 over 1 year.
The information contained herein is for informational purposes only without regard to any particular user’s investment objectives, risk tolerances or financial situation and does not constitute investment advice, nor should it be considered a solicitation or offering to investors residing outside the United States. JUST Capital makes no representation as to the advisability of investing in any investment fund or other vehicle. Shares of JUST are made only by prospectus. The addition, removal, or inclusion of a security in any JUST Capital index is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold that security, nor is it investment advice. The JUST Parties do not in any way sell, sponsor, support, promote, or endorse any securities based on the JULCD, or have any involvement in their operations or distribution. Prospective investors should not make a decision to invest in any investment fund or other vehicle based on the information contained in this website, and JUST Capital shall not be responsible or liable for any advice given to third parties or decisions to invest in any investment fund or other vehicle by you or third parties based on the information. Index performance does not reflect the deduction of any fees or expenses. Past results of the JUST U.S. Large Cap Diversified Index are no guarantee of future performance.
The JUST US Large Cap Diversified Index is calculated and maintained by FTSE Russell using the Russell 1000 Index as a starting universe, and aims to reflect the performance of a JUST Capital Foundation Inc. methodology. FTSE Russell does not sponsor, endorse, sell, or promote any investment vehicle that is offered by any third party that seeks to provide an investment return based on the performance of any index. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.