The JUST Report: It Starts And Ends With Authenticity

(Sundry Photography)

PolicyLink, one of our racial equity work partners, hosted an event this week that shed light on a critical lesson that all C-suite executives need for leading through this era of stakeholder capitalism: authenticity is everything.

The event centered around a new report PolicyLink, FSG, and JUST produced, based on 40 interviews with CEOs, board directors, and other business leaders, on the biggest challenges leaders face in following up on their racial equity commitments over the past year.

Three of the panelists, former Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario and Ben & Jerry’s co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, spoke up on linking purpose and profit.

Patagonia may be unabashedly political, with strong progressive views that started with the brand’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, and his passion for environmentalism. Patagonia knows this may turn some customers off. But they don’t care. They’ve decided they don’t need to appeal to every American as an employer or a retailer – they want the most engaged employees and the most loyal customers. “Whenever we make these decisions, there’s two outcomes. We do better business – we make more money – and the other part of it is, we attract people to the company who want to work for a company that has a greater purpose than just selling stuff,” Marcario said.

A new survey from Axios and The Harris Poll found Patagonia to be the most respected brandin the country.

Similarly, Cohen and Greenfield are passionate progressives, and not afraid to use their marketing savvy and audience to link their names to everything from fair trade policies to criminal justice reform. Their latest social initiative, to end qualified immunity in policing, is a coalition that includes nearly 700 business leaders. Now, you may not agree with them on the issues – although interestingly, they’ve also brought in conservative and libertarian groups like the Cato Institute and the Institute for Justice – but you have to admire their authenticity. They’ve also aligned with Charles Koch, whose Koch Industries has long been an advocate for second chance hiring policies and for job applicants with criminal records (a topic we explore in a new report on how corporate America is responding to mass incarceration).

The overall lesson seems to be that whatever purpose or stakeholder-related issue your business is focused on – income inequality, equity, environmental leadership, community support – the outcomes will be better if it’s rooted in your company’s values.

On that note, we invite you to reach out to us about your own journeys in tying business to purpose, and see how we can be helpful.

Be well,
Martin Whittaker


This Week in Stakeholder Capitalism

Amazon issued its first sustainability bond on Monday, raising $1 billion to invest in renewable energy, clean transport, greener buildings, and affordable housing.

Apple commits over $430 billion in U.S investments over the next five years.

Chipotle is raising its average hourly wage to $15 to combat labor shortages while the company works to add another 20K employees to its ranks.

Colgate has unveiled its new line of recyclable toothpaste bottles and is offering the tech to its rivals.

JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and U.S. Bancorp plan to issue credit cards to people with no credit scores, using deposit account data instead. Black and Hispanic adults in the U.S. are more likely than white or Asian adults to lack credit scores.

Tyson Foods is raising wages and adding more flexible schedules to combat rising worker absentee rates at its plants.


JUST Events

On May 17th, Alison Omens joins US SIF and The Aspen Institute for a conversation on leadership and policy opportunities for a more sustainable economy beyond the first 100 days of the Biden administration.


What’s Happening at JUST

Over the next few months, we will be unpacking key insights, best practices, and guidance on what should come next from our Corporate Racial Equity Tracker, and this week we focus on the corporate response to mass incarceration. We evaluate which companies have a re-entry policy, ban prison labor in their own operations, and ban prison labor in their supply chain.

We were proud to unveil our latest collaboration with PolicyLink and FSG with the release of Corporate Insights Into The CEO Blueprint For Racial Equity, which explores the challenges business leaders are grappling with around advancing racial equity and where they need more support to center equity issues within their companies, communities, and society. To mark the launch, PolicyLink hosted an event featuring its President and CEO Michael McAfee, Ben & Jerry’s co-founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, and former Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario where they discussed the courageous business leadership we need today to build an equitable nation for all of us. You can read the report or watch the replay here.

Insider spoke with Martin and other finance leaders in a piece on the environmental worries crypto is creating for ESG-focused investors, Sustainable Brands reports on key takeaways from its Just Brands DEI event, including how far companies are walking the talk when it comes to taking action, featuring Kavya Vaghul on our Corporate Racial Equity Tracker, and FT’s CPG Specialist highlighted the food and beverage companies that outperformed in our diversity, equity, and inclusion metrics featured in our Rankings.

Peter Georgescu spoke with Ann-Marie Campbell, an Executive Vice President at The Home Depot, on how the company put people first during the pandemic.

The Forum


The reality is, you don’t have to have the answers right now. But if you join, you will find them. There are folks and communities on the leading edge of the equity movement who are paving the way every single day.”

Businesses that don’t take action to address racism will lose customers and employees. Companies must commit to a meaningful, long-term effort to drive systemic change.”

“Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this cannot come at a great cost to the environment.”

“[L]eft unchecked, the ESG agenda could do more harm than good. Specifically, boards should approach ESG and the changing global landscape in a way that is transparent, consistent, flexible, innovative, sustainable, sensitive to cultural differences, and focuses not only on risk mitigation, but also opportunities for upside leverage needed to support human progress into the future.”


Must-Reads of the Week

Highly recommend listening to the latest episode of the WorkLife podcast with Adam Grant where he explores “Why it Pays to Raise Pay” and features our Worker Financial Wellness Initiative partners, Zeynep Ton of the Good Jobs Institute and PayPal.

The Institute for Policy Studies examines 51 companies in the S&P 500 that changed rules to increase executive pay in 2020 despite taking austerity measures during the pandemic.

Ex-Unilever CEO Paul Polman calls on business leaders to publicly condemn the death penaltyin a new editorial in Insider.

After an unexpectedly poor jobs report, CNBC reports that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is lobbying to eliminate pandemic unemployment benefits to encourage more Americans to move back into the labor force. Reuters explores other issues holding workers back, including the fact that many kids still aren’t back in school, forcing parents (particularly mothers) to stay home due to a lack of childcare options.

The Financial Times reports on the record amount of stock buybacks U.S. corporations are announcing.

Chart of the Week 

For this Chart of the Week, we are highlighting an external report published recently by independent investment research firm Morningstar, which showcases the continued record-setting growth of sustainable asset flows.

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