American workers believe corporations need to shift from an exclusive focus on meeting the needs of shareholders to meeting the needs of all stakeholders, including employees, a report from JUST Capital finds.
Based on surveys of nearly ten thousand people, the report, Roadmap for Corporate America: JUST Capital's 2017 Survey Results (24 pages, PDF), found that 62 percent of respondents said they distrusted corporations; 47 percent believed that business behavior was headed in the wrong direction; and 69 percent said companies care most about shareholders, compared with 22 percent who said they care most about customers and 9 percent who said they care most about employees. The surveys also found that 80 percent of respondents feel that companies don't share enough of their success with their employees, while 58 percent gave U.S. corporations a "C" (32 percent) or "D/F" (26 percent) grade on their performance in meeting employees' needs.
When asked what they would like to see companies prioritize, survey respondents said that putting workers first (23 percent) is more important than job creation (10 percent) or putting shareholders and management (6 percent) first. In addition, 79 percent said they would settle for a smaller paycheck to work at a more "just" company — one that believes in fair pay and equal treatment for all workers, creates good jobs, understands the value of strong communities, and is committed to a healthy planet — while 85 percent said they would pay a little more to buy a product from a company perceived as being more just. The survey also found that paying a living wage or fair wage was the most important worker-related issue for respondents regardless of ideology, party affiliation, age, gender, or income level.
"I expected to see wild swings on issues of greatest importance," said Martin Whittaker, CEO of Just Capital, a nonprofit co-founded by hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II. "But whether it was political or economic or other cuts of the data....people, for the most part, just want companies to treat people as human being[s]....That's table stakes."