An Overview of Just
The International Living Future Institute (ILFI) has created a transparency and responsibility standard for corporations. It’s called the Just program. Corporations can voluntarily apply to the Just program. Once accepted, they use the Just metrics to show respective “ratings” in highly important areas of transparency and social responsibility. The metric theories include diversity, equity, inclusion, employee health, employee benefits, stewardship, purchasing, and supply chain. These well-chosen categories cover the main areas that any consumer would want to know about a corporation.
Going Beyond Traditional Corporate Standards
Businesses usually have certain minimum reporting requirements when it comes to taxation, diversity in purchasing, and public trading. Other than these modes of reporting to the government or to the public, information on a business is often considered confidential. Many businesses operate in a way that keeps strategic and sensitive business finances, strategy, and plans within a circle of executives and key employees. Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), confidentiality clauses, and trademarks are just some of the ways that businesses can protect their proprietary information.
None of these strategies are inherently negative and are often used strategically to remain competitive in the marketplace. Companies usually reserve promotions, overarching initiatives, and good news for their major publicity opportunities. This strategically keeps the company name in the public eye of their intended market but does not share vital information that pertains to company operations or finances.
Value of Just Labels
What the Just program encourages is information sharing that allows both businesses and consumers to make informed decisions when making purchases. So, perhaps, a company runs commercials about its new sustainability policy. The commercial probably involves a lot of trees and may not have a lot of statistics or goals listed. What Just enables the consumer to then do is look up accurate metrics on this company to determine for themselves if the sustainability claims are legitimate.
Similarly, if a company advertises public commitment to diversity, Just can prove that commitment by showing actual diversity and inclusion metrics. Any consumer can find the Just label for any participating company on Just’s website at any time. This quote from the site does a stellar job of summarizing the intent of Just: “Just is a nutrition label for socially just and equitable organizations.” Just like nutrition labels on our food and drinks, Just labels give us a full understanding of the products and services we are consuming from participating companies.
Here is an example of a Just label:
Benefits of the Just Program
Corporations participating in the Just program gain resources that help them improve their policies and approach to business practices and employee treatment. Similar transparency and corporate social responsibility (CSR) pathways like B-Corp certifications play well with the Just program. Participating in Just can help a corporation score more B-Corp certification points and vice versa.
If a company’s brand is centered around CSR, the Just program is a great way to build that brand. The Just label shows a willingness to be transparent and explore ways to improve business operations to meet consumer expectations. Companies can improve their ratings over time with focused effort which will show on their public Just Label.
Branding has never been more important for companies. That branding can attract or repel the emerging workforce. Young professionals and new graduates have shown strong desires to work for companies with a CSR focus. This generation wants to make positive change and feel as if they are a part of making the world a better place. So, having a Just label and making the Just values a part of company culture can be a major recruiting factor.
The Future of Just and Corporate Transparency
The approaches above are some but not all of the ways corporations can be held accountable to contribute to a better world. Take a minute this week to look into some of your favorite brands and companies. Are there more ways they practice transparency? You may find that some companies don’t meet your standards for transparency, accountability, sustainability, or other factors. You can be a part of the change by supporting corporations that practice transparency and being a vocal advocate for them.
Consumers will continue to demand this transparency that helps them make responsible purchasing decisions. The future will surely hold more transparency and accountability for corporations and the individuals that lead them.