April 14, 2024
When workers are an employer’s No. 1 priority, stockholders benefit too

When workers are an employer’s No. 1 priority, stockholders benefit too

The deep uncertainty that the COVID pandemic created in the workforce hasn’t waned. U.S. workers are struggling with inflation, burnout, and fresh waves of layoffs. This comes as people expect more from employers — more leadership, more urgency, more action, and better jobs.

The public’s perspective is clear and consistent: companies need to prioritize their employees. In today’s unstable economic climate, worker wages and treatment are more important to Americans than ever.

When it comes to creating U.S. jobs with strong wages, good benefits, safe environments and opportunities for upward mobility, a handful of companies lead the pack.

Bank of America BAC, +0.38%, NVIDIA NVDA, +1.63% and Microsoft MSFT, -1.07% are the top-three companies in JUST Capital’s 2023 rankings of America’s most JUST companies. They all share one crucial thing in common — a clear commitment to addressing worker issues and investing in employees.

Since 2018, JUST Capital’s rankings have provided a snapshot of how U.S. companies are measuring up to the public’s priorities, as determined through an annual survey to identify issues that define principled business behavior. Companies that are just provide a clear benefit for investors. For example, If an investor purchased an index tracking the JUST 100 companies at its March 2019 inception, the index would have generated 13.3% in excess return versus the Russell 1000 as of December 2022.

Worker issues have risen to the forefront of Americans’ vision for what is a just business. Paying a fair and living wage, supporting workforce advancement, protecting worker health and safety, and providing benefits and work-life balance are top priorities for the public. Notably, regardless of demographic differences including political affiliation, Americans agree that companies should do more to address worker needs. 

What makes a great company?

Bank of Americademonstrates strong leadership on the top priority — paying a fair, living wage – by raising its minimum wage to $22 per hour, a key step in its pledge to offer a $25 starting wage by 2025. In addition, employees receive an extensive benefit package, including 16 weeks of paid parental leave for primary- and secondary caregivers, and career development opportunities through tuition assistance and professional training.

NVIDIA works to ensure equal pay for equal work, performing detailed pay equity analyses, and is one of only a few companies to disclose pay-analysis results separated by racial and ethnic categories. Like Bank of America, NVIDIA is one of 10% of Russell 1000 RUI, -0.16% companies that offer at least 12 weeks of paid parental leave for both caregivers, providing 22 weeks of paid leave to primary caregivers.

Microsoft offers at least 12 weeks of parental leave for both caregivers, in addition many other generous paid-time-off benefits, including 15 days of paid vacation and an additional 10 days of paid sick leave for every worker — a policy still rare for many companies. Additionally, Microsoft discloses the results of its pay-equity analyses, going above and beyond other companies by disaggregating pay ratios for specific racial and ethnic categories — including Black, Asian and Latinx — all of whom are paid on par with their white counterparts.

“ When companies ensure the economic security, advancement, equity and safety of their workforces, employees are more engaged and productive. ”

These efforts provide tangible benefits to employees, but prioritizing workers offers much more to companies than just an assurance of moral good. When companies ensure the economic security, advancement, equity, and safety of their workforces employees are more engaged and productive, strengthening their companies’ business in turn.

Americans expect the private sector to better support employees. Effective business leadership today puts workers at the center of an organization’s strategy. When businesses take this approach, we get much closer to an economy that works for all Americans.

Alison Omens is chief strategy officer at JUST Capital. 

Also read: Tech companies are hiring — a lot — despite recent wave of layoffs

More: Unemployment rate is now 3.5%. Is this the last chance for job switchers to jump ship?

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