I had the pleasure of attending the CNBC CEO Council Summit in Santa Barbara this week. It was a great event, with a lot of honest and thought-provoking discussion. One of the central themes both onstage and behind the scenes was how companies are meeting the needs – and sometimes the demands – of their various stakeholders (particularly their workers) in such turbulent times.
It was a fascinating look at what it means to lead today. John Donohue, CEO of Nike, talked assuredly about how his company’s core values are critical in helping decide how and when to act on major social issues. Apple’s SVP of Services Eddy Cue highlighted how its “small company” culture helps the company maintain a relentless focus on customers. EY CEO Carmine Di Sibio spoke to workforce challenges across the economy, particularly in the service sector, referencing how AI is changing not just his company, but his clients’. And Caroline Wanga, CEO of Essence Ventures and former Chief Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion Officer at Target, spoke powerfully about the Target leadership team’s journey on DEI.
Coincidentally, Target CEO Brian Cornell echoed this in a wide-ranging interview with Fortune this week. “I’m really proud of the work we’ve done in the DE&I space,” he said. “I know that focus on [DE&I] has fueled much of our growth over the last nine years.”
How he responds to the current controversy surrounding the removal of LGBTQ merchandise from some Target stores ahead of Pride month will be another instructive moment. Overall though, Cornell believes that investing in worker wages, benefits, and educational resources has delivered concrete bottom-line results for the $69 billion retail giant. Industry leaders like PayPal, Chipotle, Prudential, Verizon, and others in JUST’s Worker Financial Wellness Initiative are seeing similar improvements in performance.
My key takeaway? Knowing and investing in your company’s culture is a must for any business leader today.
JUST Rankings Spotlight
This week we are highlighting the Top 3 companies within the JUST 100 for performance on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within the workplace.
- Hewlett Packard Enterprise set a target in 2019 to increase the representation of women and ethnically diverse talent in its workforce at both the global and U.S. level by 1% each year.
- Salesforce reached its goal of having 50% of its U.S.-based workforce comprised of underrepresented groups one year early, and provides detailed yearly equity data on employee demographics.
- Starbucks has maintained 100% race and gender pay equity since 2018, and has a 2025 goal of 30% racial and ethnic diversity at all corporate levels, and 40% at the retail and manufacturer level.
JUST In The News
A Harvard Business Review byline by Bain & Company partners marks t JUST Capital as a leader in independently tracking stakeholder value, and a key resource for companies in building a stakeholder strategy.
Our chief strategy officer Alison Omens is featured in the roll out of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance’s new study, Impact at Work: An Examination of Corporate Impact Investing Strategies and Their Durability. The report provides an overview of the current state of corporate impact investing, with a focus on best practices and opportunities for companies to advance social, economic, and environmental outcomes in line with their business priorities.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“If it’s core to who you are and your values, then no, you stand up for your values. If it’s commenting on some political issue that’s in someone else’s backyard, then we may have that personal feeling, but we don’t comment on it with our brand and publicly.”
- Nike CEO John Donahoe at the CNBC CEO Council Summit in Santa Barbara, California, speaking about how to manage speaking out on issues and “anti-woke” backlash.
Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet and Google, pens an editorial in the Financial Times asking companies working on AI advancement to foster a culture of responsibility.
CNBC reports that former Google CEO Eric Schmidt warned that AI is an existential risk and that an “existential risk is defined as many, many, many, many people harmed or killed.”
LinkedIn co-founder and Greylock partner Reid Hoffman is profiled in The New York Times as an AI evangelist, beating “the positive drum loudly” to show how AI can improve humanity. He’s also featured on Fortune’s Leadership Next podcast this week.
Fortune reports on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) decision to hold companies responsible for any AI discrimination in hiring, firing, or promotions.
Charter interviews Sandra Quince of Paradigm for Parity on how companies can adopt AI while still focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Apple, Goldman Sachs, and Samsung move to ban employees from using ChatGPT at work because of privacy concerns.
Bloomberg reports on the first instance of a fake AI-generated image affecting the market after an image of an explosion at the Pentagon momentarily rattled investors. Adobe Chairman and CEO Shantanu Narayen joined CNBC to talk about AI innovations and the growing need to “train consumers to verify the authenticity of images.”
MUST READS OF THE WEEK
Fortune has a new editorial arguing that killing the term ESG might be the best way to save it. Focusing on specific areas Americans care about would prove to be a more effective strategy.
The New York Times writes about the growing toll of inflation on Americans even in the face of a strong job market. In a new Federal Reserve survey, 35% of respondents said they were worse off than a year earlier, up from 20% in 2021.
Intelligencer explores the misconception that raising wages will lead to unemployment, citing a UC Berkeley study that found counties with minimum wage growth saw joblessness decrease.
A new opinion piece in The Washington Post takes on the hidden crisis of caregiving in America and advocates for more flexibility and support from companies and the government.
A Washington Post-Ipsos poll finds out what workers really care about. Pay, having a good boss, hybrid flexibility and health benefits all topped the list.
Axios and The Harris Poll publish a new survey on brand reputation. Facebook and Tesla dropped considerably down the list while Patagonia took the top spot.
CHART OF THE WEEK:
In a recent analysis, we took a look at whether companies offer equal weeks of paid parental leave to both primary and secondary caregivers. Leading to better outcomes for workers and their families, parity in paid leave is a more inclusive practice, acknowledging all family types and the roles that parents play in childcare, regardless of their gender identity, relationship status, or sexual orientation. As of September 2022, 9%, or 87 companies, provide equal weeks of paid leave to primary and secondary caregivers, compared to 6%, or 59 companies, a year earlier – an increase of 3 percentage points and 25 companies.