The JUST Report: The 32 Companies That Lead Their Industries on Workers  

(Justin Sullivan – Getty Images)

This coming Monday marks Labor Day in the U.S. – an occasion to celebrate workers and honor their contributions. Ahead of the holiday, we took a look at the 32 companies that top their industries on worker issues in our 2021 Rankings of America’s Most JUST Companies.

These companies – which include NVIDIA, JPMorgan Chase, Etsy, and Deere & Company – offer a glimpse at how corporate America can prioritize workers in our post-pandemic economy, and why it matters.

As we all know, the country is currently experiencing what many have called a labor shortage (my colleague Alison Omens makes the case for why this might be better understood as a good jobs shortage). Employees are quitting at record levels. Companies in traditionally low-wage industries are struggling to hire.

When we polled the American public back in July on what companies should be doing to hire right now, their number one response was to increase starting wages. This has begun to happen – just this week, PNC and Walgreens announced that they’d be increasing starting wages to $18 and $15 per hour, respectively, and Walmart lifted hourly pay by $1 for over 550,000 workers – and the changes are welcome. But, as CNBC reported, for many it still doesn’t cover most of the basic necessities.

This distinction between minimum wage and living wage is a critical one, but it’s poorly understood. That’s why we’ve developed a primer for corporate leaders on what a living wage isand how to estimate it, drawing from our work with MIT professor Amy Glasmeier and her Living Wage Calculator. It’s also why our Worker Financial Wellness Initiative is so important.

I’ll leave you with this: Our Chart of the Week shows that the 32 industry leaders for workers outperformed their Russell 1000 peers by 8.6% over the trailing one-year period. If a reminder is needed of why investing in workers matters, that would do it.

Be well,
Martin Whittaker

P.S. We’re hiring! We have multiple roles available, including a new Managing Director of Programs. We’re looking for someone who works across sectors and loves building things! The person will likely have worked in corporate, foundation, nonprofit, and/or consulting realms leading programs, strategy, and/or partnerships. They’ll be responsible for overseeing all our initiatives and building new ones, with a major focus on racial equity and financial security.

This Week in Stakeholder Capitalism

Apple is expanding its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative with an additional $30 million in new commitments.

AT&T launches the Connected Climate Initiative to reduce carbon emissions by 1 billion metric tons.

Fidelity is aiming to add 9K jobs to its roster by the end of 2021.

PNC Bank will raise starting wages to $18 an hour on November 22.

Starbucks workers in the Buffalo area announced that they were forming a union, and asked the National Labor Relations Board to hold elections.

Walgreens will raise its starting hourly pay to $15 an hour in October.


JUST Events

Thursday, September 16 from 4:30PM – 5:30PM EST: We are thrilled to bestow the honor of Chairman Emeritus on JUST Capital Co-Founder Deepak Chopra, and as a fitting way to continue his legacy at JUST, we will be establishing the Deepak Chopra Scholars Fund to support the next generation of leaders through our internship program. The live virtual event will feature a conversation with Martin and Deepak, as well as a special performance! Register here and make a contribution to support the Deepak Chopra Scholars Fund today! We hope you can join us!

SEPTEMBER 9: Lorraine Wilson joins Jon Hale, Global Head of Sustainability at Morningstar, and Zach Conway, CEO of Seeds Investor, to discuss the ways both firms are providing data-driven insights to help financial advisors and end investors make more sustainable investing decisions. The conversation will cover the challenges financial advisors face in initiating ESG conversations with their clients and ways in which the industry can improve. Sign up to watch live here.

SEPTEMBER 15: Worker Financial Wellness: How Corporations Can Build Quality Jobs Improving workers’ financial wellness is good for both employees AND employers. See how companies participating in our Worker Financial Wellness Initiative – including Chipotle, Prudential Financial, and PayPal – are making their employees’ well-being a corporate priority. Hosted by Aspen Institute and moderated by Lauren Weber from The Wall Street Journal. RSVP here.

What’s Happening at JUST

CNBC covers how individual investors can find sustainable investment options that address climate and other core ESG issues, featuring JUST’s Rankings along with insights from Morningstar, As You Sow, and more. CNBC also shines a light on the complexity of rating companies like Amazon on worker-related issues because it traditionally scores higher on pay and benefits while scoring poorly on health and safety and other labor issues.

Rick Wartzman of The Drucker Institute features JUST polling data in a Fortune editorial investigating median pay data from Business Roundtable signatories, demonstrating that in an era when corporations find themselves “under increasing pressure to prove that they are serving the interests not just of their shareholders but also those of their customers, employees, suppliers, and the communities in which they operate,” good data is paramount.

Harvard Business School featured our latest polling on the Business Roundtable and the public’s perceptions of whether businesses are actually supporting all of their stakeholders.

The Forum

“Any hiccup in the supply chain right now just adds fuel to the disaster. “We are not manufacturing what we want to manufacture. We are manufacturing what we are able to manufacture.”

“For parents, and especially mothers, the ability to go back to work just isn’t there right now. Schools at this point seem to be planning to open, but the minute we see things are bad and kids are getting sick, then things may change again. We don’t know what the fall is going to bring, but we do know it’s not going to bring a full recovery that suggests people don’t still need support.”

  • Julie Kashen, Senior Fellow and Director for women’s economic justice at the Century Foundation, speaking to Vox on pandemic unemployment benefits coming to an end.

Today, labor shortages in these very same industries are hampering US business growth and economic recovery. Without servers and cooks, restaurants can’t keep their doors open. Without truck drivers, fuel deliveries are delayed. Without childcare workers, adults cannot return to work.” 


Must-Reads of the Week

Edelman Trust Barometer releases a special report on the growth of the “belief-driven employee,” echoing many of JUST’s polling insights and explaining that, to attract and retain talent, companies must lead on a tripod of traditional pay and career advancement, a newer focus on employee well-being, and a stronger employer commitment to act for good on society’s biggest challenges.

KPMG releases its 2021 CEO Outlook. Key takeaways: 87% said purpose and creating long-term value for allstakeholders is central to building their companies’ brand reputation; 71% said CEOs will be increasingly held personally responsible for driving progress in addressing social issues; and 30% plan to invest more than 10% of their revenues toward becoming more sustainable to combat climate change.

The Financial Times writes that the largest accounting firms – PwC, Deloitte, KPMG, and EY – are now racing to create ESG and sustainability offerings as the sector continues to boom.

Many CEOs claimed to take pay cuts in the early days of the pandemic – Fortune takes a look at who actually did.

Chart of the Week

For this Chart of the Week, we look at how the 32 companies, by industry, that prioritized their workers performed compared to the rest of the Russell 1000 companies we rank. Looking at these industry leaders (excluding the top company for Internet – Facebook – as it is under review for our 2021 Rankings), we see that they have outperformed the Russell 1000 by 8.6% over the trailing one-year period. Learn more here.

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