Since 2015, we’ve surveyed 150,000 Americans to determine how they see the state of business in the United States, and which issues they consider to be most important. This year’s People’s Priorities report provides a comprehensive up-to-date picture of this, as well as the weighting basis for our annual Rankings of America’s Most JUST Companies, out next month.
The headline that we shared on CNBC’s Power Lunch yesterday is that Americans are united in wanting good jobs and accountability from the country’s largest companies. “Pays a fair, living wage” was (once again) the public’s top priority among the 20 Issues presented, closely followed by “Creates jobs in the U.S.,” (up from the eighth spot last year) and “The board of directors holds executives accountable to the interests of its workers, customers, communities, and the environment, as well as shareholders,” up from #11 last year. (Scroll down to Chart of the Week to see the full list of Issues and their relative importance.)
We believe this reflects the growing belief that corporations can and should be doing more to build a more just economy, that good jobs are an essential component of this, and that more transparency is needed to see who is actually walking the talk. This week, SEC Chair Gary Gensler cited the example of the ubiquity of net-zero emissions plans, noting that his team is considering ways to have companies be held accountable for these commitments through disclosure standards. As we’ve written throughout the year, more transparency across the most meaningful ESG metrics related to the environment and human capital is sorely needed.
And as the Labor Department reported this month, accompanying a drop in unemployment to 4.2% were 4.2 million people quitting their jobs in October and job openings rising to 11 million. It remains to be seen how the Omicron COVID variant affects the ongoing recovery, but it is clear that labor continues to have significant leverage over employers, and that companies will need to continue to compete with attractive wages and benefits.
Together with our partners at CNBC, we’ll share next month how companies are stacking up against these and other key priorities.
This Week in Stakeholder Capitalism
Activision Blizzard employees create a strike fund and ask colleagues to sign a union authorization card, following a walk out on Monday.
Amazon increased its renewable energy procurement by 40% over the past year.
American Express, CVS Health, General Motors, Humana, IBM, Mastercard, Meta, Nielsen, Nike, Under Armour, and Walmart are among the founding members of the Data & Trust Alliance, organized to develop and implement responsible AI practices.
Applied Materials, Micron, and Equinix join the Alliance for Global Inclusion, which Intel and partners launched earlier this year to share and implement DEI best practices. Its next corporate survey opens Dec. 14.
Kellogg moves to permanently replace striking workers.
McDonald’s is providing $250 million to help finance loans to help more women and minorities open their own franchise.
Patagonia is donating the entirety of their $10 million in Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental organizations.
Starbucks workers in Buffalo voted to unionize, in a first for the company.
United Airlines becomes the first airline to operate a passenger flight with 100% renewable aviation fuel.
What’s Happening at JUST
If you missed our conversation with Audible, PeduL, and Newark Venture Partners (NVP) on how corporations can improve racial equity through smart local investing, watch the full conversation here.
ETF Trends highlights our JUST ETF in their piece on the need for more ESG funds to do more than simply excluding poorly performing companies.
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
“This is not just adopting principles, but actually implementing something concrete.”
- Kenneth Chenault, Data & Trust Alliance co-chair and former American Express CEO, telling the New York Times about the Alliance’s new tool that corporations can use to“detect and combat” bias in their AI algorithms.
“I think a unionized Starbucks restaurant will demonstrate to workers…that it’s not easy, but they can do it. We will likely see many, many more organizing drives.”
- Rebecca Givan, labor studies associate professor at Rutgers, to NPR in a story about the Starbucks union vote.
“You can’t live your entire thesis on, ‘I’m going to invest if this brand name fund or this brand name company is involved.’ If you are not courageous, you will be left behind.”
- Chisa Egbelu, cofounder of PeduL, in this week’s JUST-led panel on corporate community investment with a racial equity lens.
Must-Reads of the Week
Fortune’s Ellen McGirt writes a profile of former Xerox CEO and JUST advisor Ursula Burns, considering both the legacy of Burns’ career and her ongoing fight to diversify boards across corporate America.
The New York Times reports that 4.2 million people quit their jobs in October, a modest decline from September but still close to a record high. Fast Company reveals 23% American workers are still planning on quitting their job in the next 12 months.
The Conference Board shares that U.S. companies have budgeted more money for wages than at any point since 2008. The Wall Street Journal looks at why, in the midst of a labor shortage worldwide, the U.S. is the only country seeing major wage increases. Glassdoor reports on key workplace trends for 2022, including employers walking back location-based pay adjustments as they compete for top talent.
Bloomberg examines “The Great Resignation” among those under 40, and how it’s manifesting across the world in different ways, such as China’s “lie flat” movement.
Bloomberg reports that the OneTen coalition created only 21,000 jobs in 2021 and plans to ramp up new hires and promotions to get on track for its goal of 100K jobs per year.
Chart of the Week
This week’s chart comes from our 2021 Issues Report: The People’s Priorities. “Pays a fair, living wage” tops the chart as the single most important issue in this year’s survey, and all five worker issues are among the top 10 priorities of the public – including protecting worker health and safety, providing benefits and work-life balance, investing in workforce training, and cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace. Explore the details and how the data powers our annual Rankings of America’s Most JUST Companies coming in January in collaboration with CNBC.