Only 18 out of 890 major US companies are fully transparent on worker issues — and that openness is helping them grow their bottom line

NVIDIAThe technology company Nvidia, whose employees are shown here, is ranked among the best companies in terms of transparency regarding employee data like pay equity.
  • Billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones cofounded the nonprofit Just Capital in 2013 to measure what Americans want from corporations, and which of these companies are contributing to a “more just” society.
  • Just previously ranked 890 of the companies in the Russell 1000 and has now published a report on how these companies disclose workplace practices like equal pay analyses and paid parental leave.
  • Those that did reported a return on equity of up to 3% for eight of the the nine practices. Only 18 companies disclosed all nine of the practices taken into consideration, including Goldman Sachs, Nike, Nvidia, and PepsiCo.
  • This article is part of Business Insider’s ongoing series on Better Capitalism.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Since 2013, the nonprofit Just Capital has been tracking how the largest companies in America take into account all of their stakeholders, not just shareholders. It’s consistently found through annual polls that Americans are most interested, as both consumers and prospective employees, in how companies treat their workers.

Yet, when Just did an extensive analysis of how 890 of the companies in the Russell 1000 index disclose employee data like equal pay and paid parental leave programs, the “overall picture” was “sobering,” Just CEO Martin Whittaker told Business Insider. The report, “The Win-Win of Just Jobs,” was published on April 17, 2019.

“It’s sort of an interesting paradox where you’ve got the most important issue given the new frontier of corporate performance, [and] it’s arguably the least reported on, least disclosed, most uneven and difficult to get information,” he said.

Just’s team of researchers gathered all public data on nine criteria related to what it calls “human capital.” The team discovered that only 18 of the companies both disclosed and tracked the progress of all the criteria. It found no clear trends related to industry, but it did find that for eight of the nine criteria, there was a return on equity (ROE) of between 1.2 and 3%.

Whittaker said that he’s hopeful more companies are recognising the importance of publicly tracking metrics that benefit employees, and said that he expects a shift similar to the way companies began taking environmental initiatives seriously around 25 years ago. It was initially acceptable to simply state a policy, but then stakeholders demanded increasingly extensive data and signs of progress.

Alison Omens, Just’s managing director of programs and strategic engagement, led the project and told us that a similar demand for metrics around employees has been increasing year over year. “There’s just a different set of expectations and questions in moments of uncertainty, and yet more transparency on social media, extolling your values and hiring millennials, and a tight labour market,” she said.

She wants Just’s report to show, in this early stage of determining what to track and how to disclose it, “There’s a way to do this, and here are the companies that are doing it well.”

These are the nine criteria Just measured:

  • Gender pay equity analysis: 7% disclosed, had 3% ROE advantage
  • Diversity and equal opportunity policy: 86% disclosed, had 2.5% ROE advantage
  • Diversity and equal opportunity targets: 11% disclosed, had 2.4% ROE advantage
  • Paid time off policy: 28% disclosed in detail, had no ROE advantage
  • Paid parental leave policy: 28% disclosed in detail, had 2.2% ROE advantage
  • Day care services: 23% disclosed, had 2.5% ROE advantage
  • Flexible working hours: 45% disclosed, had 2% ROE advantage
  • Career development policy: 72% disclosed, had 1.4% ROE advantage
  • Tuition reimbursement policy: 68% disclosed, had 1.2% ROE advantage

The companies that disclosed all nine criteria include:3M, Alliance Data Systems, Boston Scientific, Eli Lilly, Goldman Sachs, Hasbro, Intel, Jones Lang LaSalle, Marriott, Nike, Nvidia, PayPal, PepsiCo, Qualcomm, State Street, Symantec, Texas Instruments, and Wells Fargo.


Read more:


Of the 890 largest US companies, only 65 have reviewed their gender pay gap and made the reports public – and that lack of transparency is holding women back

Nvidia’s head of corporate responsibility, Tonie Hansen, told us that she was surprised to learn how low the disclosure numbers were. She said that Nvidia made a decision to be transparent regardless of where its data or policies are at in a particular moment, as long as it’s also showing how it can improve them.

Hansen mentioned that there is lots of room for improvement in its diversity numbers, for example, but the important thing is that both the existing data and the progress made in balancing them is shown to the public. She recommended more companies do the same.

“Don’t be afraid to put data out there that doesn’t look as great if you can explain what you’re doing to actually make it better – that’s the important thing,” she said. “Bring people on that journey. Because you do get credit for being transparent in providing that information, and then the next piece of that credit is how well you’re doing on that information.”

Hansen sees the demand for this data on employees to only be increasing from here, and thinks it’s inevitable that more companies will recognise the importance of transparency. “I don’t think that you have much of a choice these days, if you’re a larger company,” she said.

You can find the full interactive report here »

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