Ten years ago JUST Capital, a Wall Street-backed nonprofit, was born through the collaboration of visionary leaders and changemakers united by one goal: to build an economy that benefits all Americans. “We believe that business and markets can and should be a greater force for good, and that by shifting $19 trillion in private sector resources, we can address systemic issues at scale, including income inequality and lack of opportunity,” said chief executive Martin Whittaker. says. Driven by the public’s priorities, JUST Capital uses research, rankings, indices and data-driven tools that help measure and improve corporate performance in the shareholder economy.
Over the years, in the field of corporate impact, JUST Capital has emerged as a pioneering force, targeting the largest companies in America to drive significant change at scale. With a strategic focus on influencing the behavior of large companies, Whittaker says the organization is implementing a four-pronged strategy to revolutionize the landscape of business practices.
First, they measure
Leveraging the influence of the business sector, JUST Capital addresses pressing social challenges by aligning corporate practices with the priorities of the American public. Conducting extensive research since 2015, the organization has engaged more than 160,000 Americans, providing critical insights on the issues that matter most to promoting fair business conduct.
Provide incentives for improved performance
Each year, JUST Capital actively works with hundreds of major employers in the US, representing a significant portion of the workforce. Through the annual America’s FAIREST companies ranking, the organization incentivizes transparency and improved performance on key issues, effectively redefining corporate success and channeling capital to industry leaders. Whittaker says these rankings measure the performance of America’s largest companies on the issues that matter most to the American people. “They have spurred hundreds of companies to make changes that benefit millions of workers, families and communities, and have helped change the national narrative about 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 — about what it means to be a just company and what issues matter most. Providing fair, sustainable wages. investing in workers; and creating good jobs in the US are globally seen as the critical priorities. The second is that fairer companies consistently outperform markets. In other words, and contrary to what critics believe, getting all your stakeholders right is the best way to create big returns for shareholders.”
Whittaker often says that companies are solely focused on profit rather than ethical behavior. While this may please investors and increase immediate profit, he believes this strategy may lead to a negative working environment.” Whittaker says that if you want to create a positive work environment, you need to have effective strategies in place. “Think about raising wages, enhancing benefits, implementing predictable scheduling for hourly workers, and providing workplace amenities to lower the cost of living,” he says. “Additionally, creating employee ownership opportunities, offering emergency savings programs, and investing in employee training and career development are all vital.”
Driving corporate change
Whittaker says another cornerstone of JUST Capital’s strategy is working directly with companies. The JUST Jobs program, including the Worker Financial Wellness Initiative, the 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 the financial well-being of workers.
Scaling change through collaboration
As the agency prepares for its first national marketing campaign, the team will work with award-winning creative and media agency, Empower the media, led by Ashlee Clarke. “We want to create a race to the top for corporate America in creating value for all of their shareholders. We’re excited to grow our work, and more importantly the companies we follow, many of which are doing amazing things to build a better future for people and the planet,” says Whittaker.