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The JUST Report: Workers Are Demanding More 

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Did you see the latest Dave Chappelle special on Netflix? The company’s employees certainly did. Dozens of workers walked out on Wednesday to join protests over content featured in the comedy special that they say is transphobic and harmful to the transgender community, and to signal their objections to the way the company responded to the criticism. Netflix leadership has since admitted they should have handled the situation better, and must now decide if and how they will meet its Trans Employee Resource Group’s demands for investment in content, as well as new internal processes and HR measures.

At the same time, close to 15,000 workers at companies like John Deere, Kellogg, and Kaiser Permanente are on strike right now to demand better wages and benefits. As Rutgers labor studies associate professor Rebecca Givan said, “Many of them saw their employers bring in record profits, while they were putting their health, their lives on the line, often risking the health and lives of their families.” The shortage of just jobs – as we’ve discussed previously – is a structural problem in America right now. It’s contributing to the supply chain issues we’re experiencing, as well as the social tensions we feel.

The connection here is that whether the issue is wages and benefits, principles and values, or some other facet of just business behavior, it’s clear that the entire relationship between employer and employee, between worker and company, is changing. While each workforce is different, the throughline among them is a call for better treatment, respect and recognition after some of the most difficult working conditions people have faced in modern times.

Last year, when we asked Americans, “How effective do you think people can be when they act together to try to change companies’ behaviors?” 87% answered very or somewhat effective, up from 71% in 2017. Workers are taking this to heart. Companies will need to navigate this with sensitivity and dexterity if they are to truly succeed.

Be well,
Martin Whittaker

This Week in Stakeholder Capitalism

Amazon, IKEA, Michelin, and Patagonia are among a group of nine companies committing to decarbonize their shipping fleets by 2040.

American Express will allow its employees to work from anywhere for up to four weeks per year, including 15 days outside of their home country.

McDonald’s reports reaching gender pay parity for its U.S. retail workforce.

Toyota and Stellantis each announce plans to build new electric vehicle battery factories in North America, with Toyota planning to spend $3.4 billion through 2030 on U.S. manufacturing.      

What’s Happening at JUST

Together with Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, FSG, and PolicyLink we sat down with leaders from the Department of Commerce, P&G, and Edwards Lifesciences to discuss the leadership needed for an equitable economic recovery. At a time of transformation in employer-workforce relationships, the conversation highlighted how the private and public sectors can advance racial equity and economic opportunity for workers.

JUST is thrilled to share that Dr. Jason Wingard, President of Temple University and Founding Partner and Chairman of The Education Board, Inc., has joined our Board of Directors. His commitment to our mission and his expertise in leadership will be of great value to the team.

Yesterday marked Latina Equal Pay Day in 2021, the day when the average pay for Latina women catches up to what non-Hispanic white men were paid the year before. Despite growing interest in pay equity, our own research shows that only 21% of Russell 1000 companies reported conducting a pay equity analysis this past year.

JUST Events

With 2021’s biggest climate change conference (COP26) kicking off next week, we’re speaking to HP CEO Enrique Lores to learn how the company has managed to tie its sustainability and business goals, and what other corporations can learn from its leadership. We’ll explore the policies that have allowed HP to excel on climate action, diversity and inclusion, and more, while discussing how these pursuits tie into core business strategy. Join the live conversation here.

The Forum

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(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“No one company, industry, or country can solve these challenges alone. While our own actions are important, our most critical contribution will come from sharing our learnings and helping other organizations achieve their own goals for a better future too.”

“We need the government to be able to define what it means to lead with a racial equity governing agenda and we need businesses to be able to say ‘this isn’t something just to flow with the political winds.’ We have a moment that may not last. And to the degree that we can stretch it and add specificity to it, it will be transformative.” 

Paid leave should be a national right, rather than a patchwork option limited to those whose employers have policies in place, or those who live in one of the few states where a leave program exists.”

Must-Reads of the Week

PwC is out with its Annual Corporate Directors Survey. Highlights include: 64% of directors say that ESG is tied to company strategy and 52% are in favor of tying executive compensation to DEI goals. The Wall Street Journalreports on the uneven gains in corporate boardroom diversity over the past year. A new report from BoardReady finds a strong correlation between diverse boards and ambitious corporate climate action among high emitters.

Bloomberg reports that more companies are providing transparency on the racial makeup of their workforces, even if the results are grim. Explore their latest data visualization, which shows what representation looks like across the 76 S&P 100 companies that have shared their EEO-1 data

Our Worker Financial Wellness Initiative colleagues at the Financial Health Network released their latest 2021 Financial Health Trends Pulse Report, which paints a vivid picture of Americans’ financial lives during the second year of the pandemic.

Bloomberg reports on new Federal Reserve data showing that, for the first time, the top 1% of American earners now hold a larger share of national wealth than the middle class.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the SEC’s reopening of a proposal that would pare back executive pay for companies whose financial results contain errors.

The Financial Times highlights new MSCI research that finds global temperatures will rise by 3°C if listed companies do nothing to change their current projected greenhouse gas emissions.

Chart of the Week

This week’s chart looks at the median rate of disclosure for human capital metrics across the six key themes our latest analysis covers. Learn more about this and other trends in human capital data disclosure here.

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