Just Capital: How One Nonprofit Works to Raise Corporate Standards Through Data

The organization Just Capital may be a nonprofit, but it's working in the name of capitalism—by using public surveys to define "just" behavior and scoring public companies based on those statistics.

It’s not easy to encourage corporations to do the right thing. But a nonprofit set up by a well-known hedge fund manager is working to make the case for ethical corporate behavior.

Just Capital, an organization created by billionaire philanthropist Paul Tudor Jones, aims to educate both the public and corporate America on what makes a “just” company. The nonprofit, in a recent profile in Business Insider, attempts to make the case that “just” doesn’t simply mean philanthropic.

It doesn’t mean maximally profitable, either. The organization instead focuses on metrics that emphasize the common good, including how the American public perceives these issues—and issues like worker pay and employee treatment are often near the top of the list for many Americans.

“It’s exciting because we’re trying to focus on outcomes of nontraditional performance criteria,” Just Capital CEO Martin Whittaker told the publication. “But to do good, you’ve got to harness the forces of capitalism. You cannot always rely on philanthropy.”

The nonprofit uses a large sample size to decide what is most important to the public and applies those criteria to find the companies that are most effectively meeting those goals. It then publishes a list of the companies that are most successful. (Just Capital first published the list in November.)

Interestingly, the companies that seemed to be hitting the mark were outside of the startup space. Firms like Rockwell Collins, American Express, Ford, and Whirlpool showed up near the top of last year’s list.

The list is designed to help both investors and the public see what companies are effectively showing the best corporate behavior, so they know where to put their dollars. (Business Insider notes that the public often makes decisions on buying from, working at, or investing in companies based on justness.) The strategy, says Whittaker, is designed to raise standards across the board.

“We know companies want data on this, both on themselves and on their competition, and they want to get better,” Whittaker adds. “At the end of the day, that’s whose behavior we are trying to influence. We’re trying to create a race to the top.”

Hedge fund icon Paul Tudor Jones, shown at a Just Capital launch event. (via the organization's Facebook page)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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