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ESG Viewpoint:
JUST Capital

# RepRisk interviews Martin Whittaker, CEO, JUST Capital

# June 2023

1. RepRisk: Please provide some details about your role at JUST Capital and the work that you and your team do.

Martin Whittaker: I’m the founding CEO of JUST, hired by the original board members in July 2014 to bring the dream of JUST Capital to life. We are now an established force in the corporate and investor world, helping to channel the voice of everyday Americans to drive real change on stakeholder performance in the U.S. It’s about systems change, and we see ourselves as catalytic to the vision of making capitalism work for all Americans. The bottom line is that business can and must play a role in addressing the critical issues of our time and that creating value for and investing in your stakeholders is also the best path to building and running a great business.

2. RR: What is the mission of JUST Capital, and how does that manifest in the projects you undertake?

MW: JUST Capital is an independent nonprofit dedicated to building an economy that works for all Americans by catalyzing companies to take action on the issues that matter most to the American public.

Every year we poll the American public to identify what issues matter most when it comes to just business behavior, and those issues become the foundation by which we track, analyze, and galvanize corporate behavior change, including our Rankings of America’s Most JUST Companies.

In addition to our Rankings, we produce data-driven insights and programmatic initiatives, partnerships, and products to directly encourage and support corporations to adopt more just business practices including the JUST Jobs Scorecard, Worker Financial Wellness Initiative, Corporate Care Network, Corporate Racial Equity Alliance, as well as our ongoing investor solutions related work and index concepts that demonstrate the power of investing in companies at the forefront of stakeholder value creation.

3. RR: In what ways do you envision the Ranking of America’s Most JUST Companies can help shape business decisions by market practitioners or the behavior of companies themselves?

MW: Our annual Rankings of America’s Most JUST Companies incentivizes companies to increase transparency and improve performance on the issues most important to the American public – and helps to redefine corporate success and drive capital to leaders. It’s all about creating a race to the top by demonstrating what good looks like in a new stakeholder-focused economy. It’s not about “naming and shaming.”

In 2022, we tracked, analyzed, and ranked 951 companies across five stakeholder groups, 20 issues, and 245 data points. Of these companies, 501 registered for our corporate portal and 350 engaged with our data review period, representing 14 million workers, 9% of the total U.S. workforce. Importantly, 54% of companies who engage with JUST Capital say they’ve changed behavior because of their engagement with us.

Companies want to understand their performance and learn from our analysis at a detailed level. We have held well over a hundred detailed Rankings debrief conversations this quarter walking through specific data and drivers of performance. We are seeing the impact of these conversations in greater transparency and improved performance on the metrics we track in our Rankings year over year, like pay equity, workforce diversity, gender board diversity, climate disclosures, etc. For instance, over 120 Russell 1000 companies have lifted wages (up from 47 in 2018), benefiting 6.5 million workers. You can explore details on the impact section of our website.

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