The JUST Report: Business is Failing on The Promise of a ‘Great Reset’  

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

One of our top takeaways from last year’s polling was that nearly 90% of Americans believed that the pandemic provided an opportunity for companies to hit “reset” and focus on doing right by their workers, customers, communities, and the environment. And part of the population was confident companies were starting to make progress, with an unusually high 37% saying corporations were making workers a top priority.

Well, yesterday we released our sixth annual Americans’ Views on Business Survey, and it is clear that confidence is waning.

Only 49% of those surveyed believe companies have a positive impact on society (down from 58% in 2018); nearly 60% said capitalism is not working for the average American; only 36% believe companies are having a positive impact on the financial well-being of their lowest paid workers; and a mere 22% believe business is headed in the right direction.

A significant majority – 63% – continues to want CEOs to take a stand on key societal issues, with income inequality, racial equity, and climate change the top issues identified. However, 84% agreed that companies “often hide behind public declarations of support for stakeholders but don’t walk the walk.” Actions, as we have written about many times at JUST, speak louder than words.

The fact is that Americans want – expect – companies to do more, for them, for their communities, for the country. We’ll be announcing the top Issues – The People’s Priorities – in early December, and they’ll be powering our Rankings of America’s Most JUST Companies in January.

Be well,
Martin Whittaker

This Week in Stakeholder Capitalism

Alphabet surpasses $2 trillion in market capitalization, doubling its value during the pandemic.

Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, and other employers implement new policies to give frontline workers more flexibility, geared toward attracting working parents.

GE announces it will split into three separate companies by 2024 focusing on health care, energy, and aviation.

Macy’s increases its minimum wage to $15 an hour and adds an education program that will cover 100% of tuition, books, and fees.

Uber and Lyft aggressively recruit drivers to meet increasing demand and fill gaps created by the pandemic.

Starbucks workers vote whether to establish the first ever unionized corporate-owned Starbucks location in the U.S.

What’s Happening at JUST

Every November 11, our nation pays tribute to military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. At JUST, we want to honor the moment by taking stock of how the public views corporate America’s responsibility to veterans and by analyzing how companies are currently performing when it comes to supporting the American veteran workforce. Read the key findings from our recent survey and explore how many companies are actively recruiting veterans and disclose a veteran supplier policy. The data may surprise you.

JUST is honored to join The Families and Workers Fund’s group of Good Jobs Champions to help advance good jobs, especially for people of color, young people, women and caregivers, and those in lower-paying, precarious, or rapidly changing jobs.

JUST Advisor Hubert Joly, describes in Harvard Business Review how and why corporate leaders should define a meaningful corporate purpose and use it as a cornerstone to guide decisions and operations.

Martin will be joining the Financial TimesInvesting For Good on December 2nd to discuss Building Equality and Diversity into Investment Portfolios. Sign up for the conference here.

Help us build momentum for our #GivingTuesday by making an early gift to support JUST’s mission!

The Forum

(Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

“Our companies are based on investments we are able to make because we live in a country where we do have free enterprise. Free enterprise is a close cousin of democracy.”

“Some of the toughest discussions have been the tradeoff between engagement and growth versus slowing people down, and I don’t think enough platforms are doing that. That growth-at-any-cost mentality is what is really damaging us in terms of areas like social media.”

“Paternity leave bolsters family relationships. Among 6,000 couples followed from when their child was a baby until kindergarten age, couples in which fathers took even just a week or two of paternity leave were 26 percent more likely to stay married, compared with couples in which fathers took no leave. Another study found that when fathers took paternity leave, their children reported closer relationships with their dads nine years later.”

Must-Reads of the Week

The New York Times explores how rising inflation and pandemic exhaustion may be driving  Americans to feel worse about the economy overall. Axios further unpacks how economic pessimism is on the rise, despite the fact that the actual economy is doing well.

The Washington Post details what’s behind labor market mismatches as American workers seek out higher pay, more flexibility, and remote options as employers favor candidates with several years of experience in their industry, who want to work in person, and who have more availability to work evening or weekend hours.

Our Worker Financial Wellness Initiative colleagues at the Good Jobs Institute share additional insights into the operational challenges contributing to frontline vacancies and how to solve them.

The Wall Street Journal chronicles the rise of “gender-lens” ESG funds, which direct money to companies that score highly on metrics like gender pay equity, parental leave, women in leadership, board director representation, and more.

Chart of the Week

The chart comes from our 2021 Americans’ Views on Business Survey, and shows how the public believes CEOs should prioritize key societal issues, including income inequality, racial equity, and climate change.

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