Ten years ago JUST Capital, a nonprofit backed by Wall Street, was born through the collaboration of visionary leaders and changemakers who came together with one objective: to construct an economy that benefits all Americans. “We believe that business and markets can and must be a greater force for good, and that by shifting the resources of the $19 trillion private sector, we can address systemic issues at scale, including income inequality and lack of opportunity,” CEO Martin Whittaker says. Guided by the priorities of the public, JUST Capital uses research, rankings, indexes, and data-driven tools help measure and improve corporate performance in the stakeholder economy.
Over the years, in the realm of corporate impact, JUST Capital has emerged as a pioneering force, targeting the largest corporations in America to drive meaningful change at scale. With a strategic focus on influencing the behavior of major corporations, Whittaker says the organization employs a four-fold strategy to revolutionize the landscape of business practices.
First, They Measure
Harnessing the influence of the business sector, JUST Capital addresses pressing societal challenges by aligning corporate practices with the priorities of the American public. Conducting extensive surveys since 2015, the organization has engaged more than 160,000 Americans, providing crucial insights into the issues that matter most in promoting just business behavior.
Incentivizing Improved Performance
Every year, JUST Capital actively engages with hundreds of major U.S. employers, representing a significant portion of the workforce. Through its annual Rankings of America’s Most JUST Companies, the organization incentivizes transparency and improved performance on key issues, effectively redefining corporate success and channeling capital towards industry leaders. Whittaker says these rankings gauge how America’s biggest corporations are performing on the issues that matter most to the American people. “They’ve spurred hundreds of companies to make changes benefitting millions of workers, families, and communities, and helped to shift the national narrative on the role of business in society today.”
He says the same two things stand out to him year after year. “The first is how much agreement there is among Americans – across political, racial, economic, geographic and other lines – on what it means to be a just company, and which issues matter the most. Providing fair, livable wages; investing in workers; and creating good U.S. jobs are universally seen as the critical priorities. The second is that the most just companies consistently outperform in the markets. In other words, and contrary to what critics may think, doing right by all your stakeholders is the best way to generate great returns for shareholders.”
Whittaker says oftentimes, companies focus solely on profit and not on ethical behavior. While this may please investors and increase immediate profit, he believes this strategy can lead to a negative work environment.” Whittaker says if you want to create a positive work environment, you have to have effective strategies in place. “Consider increasing wages, enhancing benefits, implementing predictable scheduling for hourly workers, and providing workplace amenities to reduce living costs,” he says. “Additionally, creating employee ownership opportunities, offering emergency savings programs, and investing in employee training and career advancement are all vital.”
Advancing Corporate Change
Whittaker says another cornerstone of JUST Capital’s strategy is direct collaboration with companies. The JUST Jobs program, inclusive of the Worker Financial Wellness Initiative, Corporate Racial Equity Alliance, and the Corporate Care Network, equips corporate leaders with assessments, resources, and communities of practice to drive change on critical issues. Launched in 2020, the Worker Financial Wellness Initiative has successfully created a community of corporate leaders dedicated to enhancing workers’ financial well-being.
Scaling Change Through Collaboration
As the organization gears up for its first national marketing campaign, the team will be partnering with the highly awarded creative and media agency, Empower Media, led by Ashlee Clarke. “We want to create a race to the top for corporate America in creating value for all their stakeholders. We are thrilled to magnify our work, and more importantly the companies we track, many of whom are doing amazing things to build a better future for people and the planet,” Whittaker says.
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