The JUST Report: Verizon, Chipotle, and Others Invest in American Workers

Despite a strong jobs report last week and a year marked by steady wage growth, many American workers are still struggling financially. 35% of Americans say their financial situation is worse off than the prior year — the largest share on record since the Fed began asking the question almost a decade ago. And over a third lack enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense.

But there is hope. Three years ago, JUST Capital co-launched The Worker Financial Wellness Initiative with PayPal, Good Jobs Institute, and the Financial Health Network, to help companies assess and improve the financial health and security of their workforces. Today, 13 companies are participating in the Initiative and have helped transform the lives of nearly 1 million workers by investing in higher wages, benefits, training, and upskilling programs. 

This week, we released a powerful video and article series documenting how the lives and livelihoods of workers at Verizon, Chipotle, PayPal, and Prudential Financial have changed because of these investments. I invite you to take a look. 

As Chipotle Chief Operating Officer Scott Boatwright told us, “Investing in your people is probably one of the smartest decisions you’ll ever make as a leader, that’ll pay massive dividends to your organization today and in the future.” This week, Zeynep Ton, professor at MIT Sloan School of Management and president of the Good Jobs Institute, published a book on this exact topic, featuring detailed case studies on why investing in workers benefits all stakeholders. 

Our Worker Leaders index concept, featured as our Chart of the Week below, provides further evidence. The top 20% of companies that lead on creating value for their workers in our model outperformed the benchmark by 3.87 percentage points from December 31, 2021 to June 6, 2023.

If you’re interested in learning more or joining the Worker Financial Wellness Initiative, please reach out

Be well


JUST Worker Financial Wellness Initiative Video Spotlight

“I want to be better and Verizon wants me to be better, and together we can do it.” In her eight years working for Verizon, Project Manager Eddie Ervin discusses how she’s used Verizon’s robust training and career development benefits to turbocharge her career, earning her Master’s and long list of technical certifications. “Companies need to pay attention to their employees’ financial wellness,” she told us. “If your employee doesn’t have their basic needs – a car to get to work, money for lunch – they cannot show up and be their best for your customer.” 

Hear directly from Eddie about the impact of Verizon’s investments – along with insights from Verizon’s VP of Benefits – in  a new video series we launched this week as part of our Worker Financial Wellness Initiative, which helps companies to assess and improve their workers’ financial health.


“It’s real simple, at the end of the day, the company will only be as strong or as effective as the people within it. It all comes down to people, and the quality of those individuals that are inside your organization.”


CNBC and Survey Monkey polling reveals a quarter of workers (24%) are worried AI will make their job obsolete, with workers of color, younger workers, and lower-salaried workers more concerned. Sharon Epperson joins the Squawk Box team to discuss

The Washington Post reports on the jobs ChatGPT has already replaced and other high-knowledge roles that are in the crosshairs. Data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas finds that AI eliminated nearly 4,000 jobs last month, a marker of the way companies are already adopting the new technology. 

The New York Times has the story as the Directors Guild of America strikes a deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Guardrails around AI are a central part of the agreement

The Wall Street Journal highlights the rapid growth of fake images produced by AI, raising concerns for the 2024 election cycle. Axios breaks down the latest policies rolled back by big tech, created to curb misinformation around Covid and the 2020 election.  

Google Cloud partners with Mayo Clinic to provide generative AI assistance to medical professionals who can use the technology to efficiently interpret data such as patient history, imaging, and lab results. 


Worker financial wellness matters. Morgan Stanley’s annual state of the workplace study reveals 83% of HR leaders say they’re concerned that employees’ financial issues could negatively affect their productivity. And employees agree – 66% say financial stress affects their work and personal lives. Fortune discusses how to diagnose turnover before it affects profitability (noting U.S. businesses lose $1 trillion dollars every year due to voluntary turnover) and highlights the impact of employees’ financial struggles on profitability.   

Jeffery Sonnenfeld and Steven Tian from the Yale School of Management pen a Fortune editorial, highlighting  that “anti-woke” ETFs from Strive and ACVF aimed at capitalizing on anti-ESG discourse are underperforming.  

Corporate leaders defend their  stances on so-called “woke” issues. Delta CEO Ed Bastian joins Fortune’s Leadership Next Podcast and talks about the company’s decision to speak out against proposed voter rules in Georgia that many saw as a targeted effort to suppress Black voters. “I’m not a politician, and I’m not looking to make political statements. I’m looking to run the best airline I can and be a voice for our people, you know, when it matters.”  

Mark Cuban doubles down on the business case for  diversity in a recent Fortune article. “Call me woke – you don’t need to call it DEI, you can call it whatever you want – I call it good business.” 

The Wall Street Journal writes about the difficult decisions companies face as they take a stand on increasingly polarizing issues. Pride Month presents an inflection point in the debate, as conservatives threaten boycotts while many businesses promote a message of inclusivity.     

The New York Times details how the first arctic summer without sea ice could come as quickly as the 2030s.


The Workers Leaders index concept features the top 20% of Russell 1000 companies in JUST’s annual Rankings that prioritize their workers. This index concept highlights the financial performance and impact of investing in companies that address the needs of their workers with policies and practices like pay equity analyses, demographic disclosures, paid parental leave, paying a living wage, and more. From inception on December 31, 2021 through June 6, 2023, the concept has outperformed its Russell 1000 benchmark by 3.87 percentage points

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