What Is a Transparent Company, Really? (Plus, Why You Want to Work for One)

Most companies are more than willing to talk about how they value their employees. But sharing noble sentiments on their “careers” page isn’t the same as disclosing what they’re actually doing in areas such as gender pay equity, making their workforce more diverse and inclusive, accommodating family needs with paid parental leave and day care services, and supporting career development.

The latter – disclosing detailed information about important workplace policies – is exactly what sets a transparent company apart.

But many big companies aren’t doing it. For example, only 7% of the 890 publicly traded U.S. companies JUST Capital ranks make their gender pay equity analysis public. Even fewer are disclosing whether they have set goals or measured progress in areas such as gender pay equity and workplace diversity.

Why Transparency Wins

Our research – the Win-Win of JUST Jobs – shows the companies that publicly disclose their policies, progress, and targets in these areas tend to perform better financially. The message seems clear: Companies that promote a happy and inclusive workforce are also more likely to do well in the market.

It’s worth noting that this research focuses on disclosure (also known as transparency) rather than the policies themselves. Whether or not companies that don’t disclose their policies have inferior policies isn’t always clear. But regardless, transparency itself appears to be a virtue.

To job candidates, publicizing policies can be a useful recruiting tool. To employees, transparency sends a message of fairness, because the rulebook is on display. It signals that benefits are for everyone – or everyone who qualifies under a fair process – rather than being doled out capriciously.

Perhaps most importantly, transparency has the power to drive real change. A commitment to transparency gives managers an incentive to design policies that will attract top talent. And when companies disclose goals and measure progress, it provides a powerful incentive to improve on those metrics, especially when that progress is measured by independent organizations like JUST Capital to ensure credibility.

Transparency is also vital for other stakeholders. Consumers who value fair worker treatment can get the information they need to decide whether to buy the company’s goods or services; investors can do the same before buying stock.

Organizations like JUST Capital can use the data to compare companies for the benefit of all stakeholders. And finally, transparency helps policymakers decide about the need for laws or regulations in these areas.

18 Companies Leading the Way in Transparency

Out of the 890 large, publicly traded U.S. companies JUST Capital ranked in 2018, 18 disclosed policies around all nine areas that we reviewed in our Win-Win analysis, encompassing diversity and inclusion, work-life balance, family accommodation, and career development. Here’s the list:

3M Intel PepsiCo
Alliance Data Systems Jones Lang LaSalle Qualcomm
Boston Scientific Marriott State Street
Eli Lilly Nike Symantec
Goldman Sachs NVIDIA Texas Instruments
Hasbro PayPal Wells Fargo

It came as no surprise that many of these companies have great policies in several of these areas. Here are five standout examples.

1. Diversity & Equal Opportunity Policies and Targets: Intel

Though the vast majority of companies in our Rankings disclose diversity and equal opportunity policies, only 11% disclose measurable targets in these areas.

In 2015 one of those companies, Intel, said it wanted its U.S. workforce to mirror the demographics of the total U.S. labor force within five years. It was a bold goal – which Intel reached two years ahead of schedule.

Intel’s diversity strategy encompasses hiring, retention, and progression, with a portion of annual bonuses tied to meeting hiring and retention goals. It has surveyed more than 7,000 of its own employees to better understand the barriers to retention and progression and developed a set of best practices for managers to mitigate unconscious bias in hiring.

In an interview with JUST Capital’s Michelle Mullineaux, Intel Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Barbara Whyte said that setting and disclosing goals and progress “enables you to bring the entire workforce on the journey with you.”

“By doing so we also hold our employees and leaders accountable,” Whyte added. “It’s a strong leadership message to the rest of the industry that it takes all of us to tackle this challenge and we must be bold.”

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2. Paid Parental Leave and Day Care Services: Eli Lilly

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly has long been on the cutting edge when it comes to issues that matter to working parents, as its 25-year presence on Working Mother’s best company list indicates.

As of 2019, new parents are entitled to 10 weeks paid leave, with birth mothers eligible for an additional eight weeks of paid leave. All new parents may take 10 weeks of unpaid leave. Like most companies on Working Mother’s list, Eli Lilly also offers a phase-back program to new moms returning to work, backup childcare, and care for sick children.

3. Flexible Work Arrangements: Hasbro

Companies from high-margin industries like tech and healthcare aren’t the only firms that treat their workers well. Toymaker Hasbro is also on Working Mother’s best company list.

Beyond its generous paid time off policies, Hasbro offers flexible work arrangements (at managers’ discretion) that “are designed to support work and life integration while providing clear expectations for managers and employees. Individual arrangements may include flexible start and finish times, changes or reductions in work hours, or work remotely.”

4. Career Development Policy: Nike

The “Just Do It” giant offers more than 5,600 online courses to employees, including “tips, tools, and in-person labs for their critical career-building moments. Managers can also find tools to better support and guide their employees in planning their careers and development.”

In 2018, Nike launched employee mentoring programs in New York, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Boston, and a digital mentoring program at its headquarters. The company also offers leadership training programs such as Amplify, which launched in 2018 for high-potential women and underrepresented groups.

5. Pay Equity: Texas Instruments

This Dallas-based chipmaker has instituted “checks and balances” into its compensation system to ensure equitable compensation. All managers are offered annual compensation training that covers fair and equitable pay, and all pay recommendations are reviewed by HR or compensation managers. The company also does an annual detailed analysis of its compensation system to look for unexplained pay discrepancies.

Texas Instruments also conducted a separate compensation analysis examining gender pay parity, taking account of job type and level. The company has achieved 100% gender pay parity within the U.S. and key countries overseas, collectively covering about 70% of its employee population.

Want to learn more about the state of disclosure and which companies are showing a commitment to transparency? We’ve aggregated all of our policy data into an interactive tracker that can be filtered by issue and industry – available for exploration here.

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