Earlier this year, we piloted our inaugural Quarterly JUST Call – a new forum for CEOs to speak directly with investors about the ways in which they are creating value for all their stakeholders over the long term – in conversation with PayPal CEO Dan Schulman. A rousing success, the conversation exemplified the timeliness of our mission, and the deep need for the conversation around how C-Suite leaders and investors can build a more just economy that works for all.
Last week, we were joined by Akamai CEO Dr. Tom Leighton in conversation with JUST CEO Martin Whittaker for our second Quarterly JUST Call unpacking Akamai’s performance in the market and across five key business stakeholders we measure: Workers, Customers, Communities, the Environment, and Shareholders.
As this chart shows, Akamai’s share price performance has meaningfully outperformed that of the S&P 500 and NASDAQ over the last two years, demonstrating that this isn’t about trade offs.
“Stakeholders are critical to creating long-term success for a company,” said Dr. Leighton, “and driving value.” With Akamai’s strong performance across all five stakeholders, it’s clear that a stakeholder-driven mindset is deeply embedded in the company’s culture, driving success across the board.
Watch the replay of the webcast here, and check out the key takeaways below:
Remarkably, Akamai is a leader in every stakeholder we track – particularly Workers and the Environment. Dr. Leighton outlined how focusing on each is essential to the long-term success of the company – from creating a positive culture that empowers workers to give their best every day, to helping customers be more successful, to training and bolstering local communities, Akamai takes a holistic approach to supporting its stakeholders and drives shareholder value along the way.
When it comes to Workers, Akamai stands out especially in creating a supportive workplace and providing good benefits and work-life balance to employees. For example, Akamai is one of only 40 companies (out of the 922 we track and analyze) that offers “unlimited paid time off” to employees, and actively encourages its employees to take the time to be with family and loved ones rather then keeping them tethered to the office. “At Akamai, we’re in this for the long haul,” Dr. Leighton said, “As part of that we want employees to stay with us for a long period of time” – a challenging goal in the tech industry where turnover tends to be high.
One area of focus for Akamai is its exceptional paid parental leave – offering mothers 18 weeks and fathers 10. Programs like this may create short-term challenges for a company, but Akamai sees employees as an investment, who help to create value for other stakeholders – like customers and shareholders – over the long term. Tom shared how pivotal it was when he took paternity leave as a first-time father, saying, “Hardest job I ever had. But it made a huge difference to me and to our family to be able to do that. A wonderful experience, taking many months off to be a primary caregiver.”
Akamai performs well across the board for its customers, but it stands out as a leader in customer privacy specifically. Dr. Leighton emphasized that “Users have the right to know what information is being used,” and increasingly today as more and more data is stored across the web. As one of the world’s largest distributed computing platforms, Akamai must and does take this issue very seriously, and approaches data privacy not just as an ESG issue, but a core business issue.
Community investment can sometimes be perceived as separate from the “serious business” of a company, but increasingly is viewed as an essential effort to grow and improve the areas where employees live and companies operate. Community growth is an area where Akamai excels – and through programs like Akamai Technical Academy, which trains and provides internships to people looking to build a career in tech, Akamai is advancing the professional skillset of the people affected by its corporate operations. These trainees go on to work at Akamai, which also serves to make its employee base more ethnically and socioeconomically diverse.
Dr. Leighton closed out the conversation with predictions around whether we might see greater disclosure from companies, particularly around human capital issues. Noting that this has already been increasing over time, he impressed that disclosure makes companies more competitive, and the internal measurement Akamai conducts and shares with employees serves to bolster engagement, empower teams, and build loyalty to and confidence in the company.
Which of course, as we’ve seen, is a virtuous cycle – ultimately benefiting the other stakeholders a company serves. Akamai’s holistic view of corporate leadership and value creation is one we hope to see more companies across all sectors adopt, building upon the practices and philosophies that CEOs like Dr. Leighton have created in their companies.
To watch the full segment, and learn more about Akamai’s performance across Workers, Customers, Communities, the Environment, and Shareholders, tune in here:
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