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The JUST Report: “The Clock is Ticking”  

A deadly heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, fatal flooding in western Europe and China, and reports that the Miami building collapse may have been accelerated by rising sea water and extreme weather conditions have brought fresh urgency to tackling the climate crisis.

Adapting to the physical impacts of a changing climate is part of it. Insurers have already begun to raise premiums or pull out of high risk markets altogether, and disruptions to the food and agriculture, construction, health, and transportation sectors are also inevitable.

Transitioning to a decarbonized economy is also a must. A new Axios poll found that the majority of Americans across all 50 states support a transition to 100% clean energy by 2035. And our own polling routinely identifies reducing environmental impacts and tackling climate change as priorities for business performance.

In truth, many businesses are taking action. In a recent Goldman Sachs sustainability report, analysts noted that 70% and 59% of companies in the utilities and energy sectors, respectively, have some form of greenhouse gas reduction target, and 24% in each have net zero targets. It was also reported that BlackRock voted against 255 board directors at companies, including ExxonMobil, during the recent proxy season because of their climate records. And the green bond market continues to burgeon around the world. Investor demand appears to be so intense that, according to Citi, issuers in many cases can now raise cheaper financing via the issuance of green bonds than traditional corporate paper.

The question is, is it enough? A new report from Ceres noted that while 76% of 96 of the largest American companies have publicly affirmed the science of climate change, with the vast majority setting greenhouse gas reduction goals, only 40% have worked with lawmakers to advocate for complementary policies – and 21% actually lobbied against them. Our research on trade associations found a similar lack of transparency.

Americans want to see meaningful action on climate change. And as Ceres put it, “the clock is ticking”.

Be well,
Martin Whittaker

 

This Week in Stakeholder Capitalism

BlackRock, in a rare move, voted against 10% of company directors this year, up from 8.5% last year, citing issues like a lack of boardroom diversity or director independence.

McKesson, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and Johnson & Johnson may soon have to pay a combined $26 billion for their role in America’s opioid crisis.

Microsoft has entered a power purchase agreement with Volt Energy, one of the few minority-owned solar providers in the U.S., with a portion of profits from the agreement going to community initiatives to expand access to solar.

Patagonia, L.L. Bean, L Brands and more clothing companies are cutting Chinese cotton out of their supply chains due to the involvement of Uyghur forced labor in production.

 

What’s Happening at JUST

The last year was devastating for women in the American workforce, with 2.2 million leaving the labor market in the first nine months of the pandemic alone. And while recent job numbers are showing signs of recovery, women and people of color are missing out on recent wage and job growth. Please join us Wednesday, July 28 at 12:00PM ET for a fireside chat with two leading women in business and philanthropy, Jean Case and Mellody Hobson, to discuss how we can address the needs of women and people of color in a post-pandemic workforce. Sign up to watch here.

JUST Board members Peter Georgescu and Dan Hesse both have new appearances in Forbes, in which Peter argues that “shareholders are not the true owners of a corporation” and Dan reveals why he spent so much of his tenure as the CEO of Sprint investing in sustainability. JUST advisor Hubert Joly also explains in a recent New York Times interview how his lauded tenure as CEO of Best Buy showed him the business case for investing heavily in workers.

Our Worker Financial Wellness Initiative was featured in Sustainable Brands.

 

The Forum

(Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

“We are on a mission to establish a ‘new normal’ in this country, one where diversity, justice, equity, and inclusion are fundamental to how our institutions perform.”

  • Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League and JUST Board member, introducing the “2021 State of Black America” virtual event.

“Companies would be wise to get ahead of ESG regulation and position themselves to effectively operate in a new regulatory environment.”

  • Mindy Lubber, CEO of Ceres, on how companies should respond to the SEC’s enhanced ESG policing and development of ESG disclosure standards.

“I’ve always believed the most successful companies have strong cultures focused on people, customers, and purpose. As we were building the new culture of Sprint-Nextel, I believed sustainability could be a ‘purpose’ that our team could rally around and be an area where we could make a real difference…our people rallied around these goals and many of our business customers and consumers took notice, as these were unique steps at the time. ”

Must-Reads of the Week

Digiday digs into recent data from The Harris Poll and Volvo to examine why so many men don’t actually take their full paternity leave, and what biases are holding them back.

NYU Stern professor Hans Taparia asks in Stanford Social Innovation Review if we’d be better off without ESG investing, since the lack of standards around ratings for ESG products means they’re not having the impact they claim.

The Financial Times reports that shareholders are pushing companies Amazon, Union Pacific, and JPMorgan Chase to address racial equity and other diversity issues through proxy voting and more, signaling that the momentum from last year’s protests against racial injustice has continued.

The Verge covers a new report released by Pacific Environment highlighting which retailers’ shipping and supply chain practices are polluting the most globally. High on the list? Walmart, Target, and the Home Depot.

Next Billion examines how “Healthy Animals Make a Healthier World,” and how improving animal care in the developing world actually has knock-on effects of improving health outcomes and sustainability of the human population.

Chart of the Week

This chart comes from our recent survey with The Harris Poll exploring which benefits American workers think companies should offer to lure more people back to work. Learn more here.

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