Technology companies swept nine of the top 10 spots in the 2018 Rankings of America’s most "just" companies, with personal products giant Procter & Gamble as the only non-tech firm in the top 10. Americans, when asked about the issues they consider most relevant to just corporate behavior, put worker pay and treatment first. The message isn’t subtle: Americans want an economy that gives people more of a stake in its success.
“It is tech heavy because tech does such a great job on worker pay and that’s our number one metric,” billionaire and hedge-fund pioneer Paul Tudor Jones, one of the founders of Just Capital, told CNBC.
Microsoft ranked first, followed by Intel, Alphabet (the holding company that owns Google), Texas Instruments and IBM. Other technology companies among the top 10: NVIDIA, Adobe Systems, VMware and Cisco Systems. Among the factors that gave Microsoft its prized spot was its 100 percent compliance on pay equity. In fact, 39 of the top Just 100 have conducted pay equity surveys, according to the Rankings.
Of the major sets of issues polled in the survey, the experience and satisfaction of workers have a weight of 25 percent (worker pay and treatment); customers 18 percent (fair treatment, privacy and honest sales terms); and products 14 percent (products and services should be high quality, fairly priced and beneficial to society). Other issues are environment at 13 percent, jobs at 12 percent and communities at 11 percent.
Americans care most about how they are paid and treated as workers and respected as customers, but Wall Street manages companies for profit, tied to quarterly earnings. That is the kind of disconnect that Just Capital is hoping to illuminate through its rankings, according to its founders.
The Just Capital Rankings encompass the 1,000 largest publicly-traded companies in the U.S. and are based on a nationwide polling of public attitudes toward corporate behavior, with over 9,000 respondents in 2018.
Founded in 2013 by Tudor Jones, along with other business, finance and civil society leaders like Deepak Chopra and Arianna Huffington, Just Capital describes its mission as building an economy where serving the broader interests of all stakeholders – including workers, customers and communities – can be a mechanism that drives financial success.
Today, that’s not the case. In 2017, 82 percent of all wealth generated went to the wealthiest one percent of the global population, according to an Oxfam report. Worker productivity in the U.S. grew by 74 percent between 1973 and 2013, yet compensation grew by only 9 percent during the same period, reported The Economic Policy Institute.
Restoring faith in business and capitalism as a force for greater good is the goal of july Capital. But it’s one that will take some convincing, especially for younger people. According to a Harvard University study, 51 percent of young people aged 18-29 claimed they don’t even support capitalism.
Microsoft not only performed well in the category of workers, but on various issues as well: environment, customers, leadership and stakeholders. It has publicly committed to slashing its carbon emissions 75 percent from their 2013 level by 2030. That goal means slashing the company’s prodigious data center electricity consumption in half, made possible by projects like one on its Redmond campus, where a server farm runs on natural-gas-powered fuel cells instead of conventional electricity.
Microsoft finds itself in good company. In 2018, companies in the Just 100, compared to other Russell 1000 peers on average, paid their median workers 26 percent more; paid a living wage to 12 percent more of their workers; were nine times more likely to have conducted gender pay equity analyses; and four times more likely to offer flexible work hours or day care and have diversity targets. They had four times as many women directors, 90 percent fewer environmental fines and were eight times more likely to recycle (41 percent compared to 5 percent).
And none of this progressive corporate behavior came at the sacrifice of the bottom line. On the contrary, the Just 100, compared to the Russell 1000, had a 5 percent higher return-on-equity, 23 percent versus 18 percent. Expecting that investors will take notice, the Just 100 companies will be included in Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s Just U.S. Large Cap Equity ETF, the first ever exchange-traded fund based on just business behavior, constructed from Just Capital’s Rankings.
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Based in southwest Florida, Amy has written about sustainability and the Triple Bottom Line for over 20 years, specializing in sustainability reporting, policy papers and research reports for multinational clients in pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, ICT, tourism and other sectors. She also writes for Ethical Corporation and is a contributor to Creating a Culture of Integrity: Business Ethics for the 21st Century. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.