It may seem that the American public is polarized on, well, everything these days.
But that’s not quite true, according to research released today from Just Capital, an independent non-profit co-founded in 2014 by billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones II, Arianna Huffington, and Deepak Chopra. (Read our feature on how Just Capital got started here.)
The nation is strikingly united—across ages, income levels and political ideologies—in its generally negative opinion of corporate behavior, and on the ways in which it believes big business can and should do better, according to the organization’s survey of 43,000 Americans.
“There are a lot of shared views around business behavior. It’s quite heartening in a way,” says Martin Whittaker, executive director of Just Capital. “People are pretty much on the same page. We believe businesses should act in a certain way.”
What are those ways?
The research, undertaken earlier this year, on what characterizes a “just” corporation shows the population cares most about how companies treat employees. The attributes ranked most highly were a company (1) paying its employees fairly and (2) engaging in fair hiring as well as providing a satisfactory work environment. Roughly 4 out of 5 said low wages could not be justified by a corporation’s desire to provide products and services at very low prices, or by their promise to create jobs.
Among other corporate attributes that mattered to respondents: the impact of a company’s products and services on society, its human rights record, and its impact on the environment.
At least 74% of all individuals said they would be more likely to buy from, work for, or invest in such “just” corporations. Moreover, the vast majority—91% of respondents—said they wanted to be able to measure corporate virtue in some way.
Perhaps most surprising, even a healthy majority (71%) of high net worth investors said they believe corporations should “balance the interests of many stakeholders, not prioritize shareholders.”
Next up for Just Capital? Evaluating America’s largest corporations by these standards. The organization expects to have its Just 100 list—a ranking of the country’s 100 best-behaving big businesses—out next year.