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Americans Want Workers to Be Treated Better, Survey Finds

Corporate America should put workers at the heart of just business practices, a new survey finds.

Americans want U.S. companies to compensate workers fairly, help create more jobs in the country and value accountability to all stakeholders, according to the latest survey findings by JUST Capital, an investment-focused nonprofit tracking how America’s 100 biggest publicly listed employers treat their workers.

"Across demographics – whether it’s political affiliation, income level, gender, or age – Americans are sending a clear signal to companies: do more to meet workers’ needs or risk losing them entirely," said Martin Whittaker, chief executive of JUST Capital in a statement.

JUST Capital asked 3,000 Americans to compare 20 different business issues including, wages, job creation, stakeholder accountability, worker health and safety, ethical leadership, work-life balance and diversity in the workspace among others.

The graphic below shows what survey respondents considered the most important issues. They were asked to pick the issue they felt the most strongly about.

2021 Stakeholder Issues Graphic

The need for paying higher wages to bridge income inequality has consistently ranked among JUST Capital's top three people priorities since it began polling consumers in 2015, the nonprofit said.

It gained nearly six percentage points from last year, the "2021 Issues Reports" survey noted. 

Americans Are Worried About Wages

Three-quarters of Americans said that they were more concerned about wages this year than last, according to a survey conducted in partnership with research firm SSRS.

Concerns about job creation and stakeholder accountability ranked number two and three in the survey followed by worker health and safety and ethical leadership at the top.

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The Great Resignation Slows Down

Fewer Americans quit their jobs in October, Labor Department data indicated earlier this week.

The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, published each month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed just over 11 million unfilled positions in the month of October.

Many of these open jobs are in warehousing, shipping, and consumer-facing retail, as the holiday shopping season gains traction.

Employees in the front-lines and low-wage positions are especially likely to leave, according to a separate August survey by consulting firm Mercer.

"Low-wage, frontline workers and employees of color are much more likely to consider leaving - and at rates higher than pre-pandemic. These workers seek higher-quality jobs, more security, safety, and better pay," the Mercer survey showed.

It's not surprising that consumers want corporate America to create jobs in the U.S. and provide equitable employment opportunities for communities that need them, according to the JUST Capital survey findings.

The issue rose sharply from ranking eight to number two, this year. The fact that so many jobs in America remain unfilled continues to rattle experts.

"It’s never been more urgent for corporate leaders to meet rapidly shifting expectations accelerated by the pandemic by aligning their actions with the American public’s priorities,” Whittaker added.

American consumers also agreed that companies should do more good by focusing on their stakeholders’ long-term interests and taking responsibility for their impact on the wider world.

“Organizations should not be creating the world’s problems but actually solving them,” suggested former Unilever CEO and JUST Capital Board member Paul Polman in a recent Financial Times interview.