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Investing with the heart, while still earning a strong return, is the equilibrium that every socially conscious shareholder aims for. To achieve that balance, investors are in constant search of strong data—specifically, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics that can help them screen out bad actors and identify the good.

For some of those metrics, the data has steadily improved. There is now research that shows a correlation between reduction of waste and stock returns, for example. The same depth of data has been elusive, however, for many social issues—including how companies treat their employees. That’s a conundrum in a society marked by growing wealth inequality, in which some investors are eager to back companies whose leaders share the fruits of success with the rank and file.

One group striving to close the worker-treatment data gap is Just Capital. Just, a nonprofit founded in 2013 by a group that includes billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones, has surveyed some 81,000 people since then to determine which corporate-behavior-issues the public cares most about. It ranks the companies in the Russell 1000 based on their performance on those issues. (The rankings are available online; they’re also the basis for the Just U.S. Large Cap Equity ETF, which launched in June 2018.) In Just’s surveys, worker pay and benefits consistently rank at the top of respondents’ priorities.

To develop a rating system for employee well-being, Just looked beyond salary and perks, says CEO Martin Whittaker; training and career development opportunities, health care, retirement plans, and other factors all fall into this bucket. Layoffs don’t necessarily count against a company if it provides, say, good severance and access to job-placement services. Just Capital also measures work/life balance, gathering data through outside groups and giving credit to companies that actively encourage and remind employees to use vacation days and parental leave.

The encouraging result of this research: What’s good for employees appears to be good for shareholders. Just’s top-ranked companies overall have consistently outperformed the Russell 1000 over the past several years. And companies that scored in the top 50% on its work/life balance metrics, for example, have earned an average annual return on equity of 19.4% over the past five years, more than two percentage points higher than those in the bottom half. The explanation for that superior performance may come down to simple human nature: A better-rewarded workforce produces at higher levels, Whittaker explains. Other groups are registering similar results; the ESG-oriented firm Parnassus Investments, for example, has found that as a group, the companies on Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For list have consistently beaten the market.

With that correlation in mind, Fortune explored Just Capital’s most recent rankings to find generous employers that also have promising outlooks for the years ahead.

Ultimate Software specializes in cloud-based human resources platforms, and it brought in nearly $1 billion in revenue in 2017. It’s known for paying Silicon Valley–esque salaries to workers in the comparatively affordable environs of its headquarters in Weston, in South Florida. Ultimate also tops Just’s lists for work/life balance and career development, offering tuition reimbursement, day-care services, and unlimited personal time off.

On the business front, it’s Ultimate’s revenue growth, which has hit 20% every year since 2012, that investors find righteous. True, the stock has fallen 24% from 2018’s summer peak on concerns that software firms will take a cyclical hit if the U.S. economy sputters. But to sustain growth, Ultimate has looked toward Europe, buying Paris-based PeopleDoc for $300 million in 2018. With a price-to-expected-2019-earnings ratio of 41, Ultimate trades in line with other fast-growing software companies. Needham analyst Scott Berg says it actually deserves to trade at a premium because of its consistent growth.

Online real estate platform Zillow Group is another top performer on the work/life balance front, offering benefits like 16-week maternal and eight-week paternal leave. A variety of factors shaved 18% off its share price in 2018. A tweak in how Zillow distributes real estate leads upset some of the agents who pay to use the platform, and rising interest rates and slowing home sales have put its industry’s growth at risk.

But Zillow, with its $1.1 billion in annual revenue, remains the dominant player in online home-listing, owning “the vast majority of time” people spend looking at homes on the web, says Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley. And despite the hiccup with its agent customers, the company registered a 22% jump in total revenues over the past years.

Zillow’s newest effort, purchasing unloved homes and flipping them for profit, could also become a growth engine; the company’s 2018 August purchase of Mortgage Lenders of America could make that business line more cost-efficient.

Intuitive Surgical focuses on robot-assisted surgeries, and “there’s nothing like it in the med-tech industry,” says Lee Hambright, a Bernstein analyst. Intuitive’s da Vinci Surgical System dominates this field, providing a tool that enables doctors to perform hysterectomies, some prostate procedures, and other surgeries in more efficient, less invasive ways. The total number of operations using robotic systems rose 20% over the past year. But competitors have been slow to embrace robotics, giving Intuitive, which brought in $3.1 billion in revenue in 2017, more than a decade’s head start. It leads its industry in another way: According to Just, ratings from current and former Intuitive employees gave the company’s benefits, such as its 401(k), higher marks than those of any other health care equipment maker.

What goes around comes around

Research by Just Capital suggests that worker pay and benefits and shareholder gains aren’t mutually exclusive.

· 26%

amount above the national average that the 100 “most just” companies in the Russell 1000 paid their median employee in 2018.

· 78%

share of U.S. survey respondents who say they’ve taken at least one action—such as buying more of a company’s product, mentioning a company on social media, or investing in a company—to reward its “positive behavior.”

· 19.4%

average annual return on equity over the past five years for companies that rank in the top half of the Russell 1000 companies on work/life balance metrics. That’s 2.3 percentage points higher than the bottom half.

*Source Just Capital

A version of this article appears in the January 2019 issue of Fortune with the headline “When Workers And Investors Share the Wealth.”



正义资本(Just Capital)就是一家致力于提供此类数据的非营利机构,该机构由知名投资人保罗·都铎·琼斯等人于2013年创立,自从成立以来,该机构已经调查了8.1万余人,以确定公众最关心哪些企业行为问题。该公司还根据企业在相关问题上的表现,对罗素1000指数中的企业进行了排名。(排名已经在网上发布,它也是正义资本于2018年6月推出的美国大盘证券ETF基金的基础)。正义资本的调查显示,工人薪酬福利问题始终是受访者最关注的问题。


该研究的结果是鼓舞人心的:如果一项政策对员工是有利的,那么它往往对公司的股东也是有利的。过去几年间,在正义资本的打分体系中排在前几名的公司,其总体表现始终稳定优于罗素1000指数中的其他公司。在工作/生活平衡指标中排名前50%的公司,其过去五年的年均证券市场回报率高达19.4%,比排在后50%的公司高出两个百分点以上。惠特克认为,高福利带来的高绩效可以归结于简单的人性:劳动者获得的回报越高,其产出水平也就越高。其他机构的调查也发现了类似结果。比如关注ESG指标的帕纳塞斯投资公司(Parnassus Investments)发现,《财富》杂志的“最佳雇主排行榜”上榜企业的绩效总体上总是能跑赢市场。


终极软件(Ultimate Software)是一个云服务人力资源平台,2017年实现了近10亿美元的收入。这家公司的总部位于南佛罗里达州的韦斯顿郊区,这里的生活成本虽然不高,但该公司给员工开出的薪水却比肩硅谷水平。终极软件在工作/生活平衡和职业发展上也名列前茅。它还提供了学费报销、日托服务和无限个人休假等多项福利。




Zillow的最新举措,是购买无人问津的房子,然后将它们转手获利。这项业务也有可能成为一个增长引擎。2018年8月,该公司收购了美国抵押贷款公司(Mortgage Lenders of America),该笔交易很可能会使这项业务更具有成本效益优势。

Intuitive Surgical公司主要从事机器人辅助手术业务。伯恩斯坦公司的分析师李·汉布莱特说道:“在医疗科技行业,它可以说是独一无二的。”该公司的达芬奇手术系统几乎占据了这一领域的垄断地位,它能辅助医生更高效地进行子宫摘除术、前列腺手术等一系列手术,同时也显著降低了创伤水平,减少了患者的痛苦。其他医疗器械公司在机器人领域发力较晚,这也使Intuitive Surgical公司的机器人制造水平与行业几乎拉开了十年的差距。2017年,该公司的营收达到31亿美元。Intuitive Surgical还在另外一个方面领导着整个行业:据正义资本介绍,该公司的前任和现任员工都对它的福利待遇给予了高度评价——比如它的401(k)养老金计划。它在员工福利上的得分超过了医疗保健设备领域里的任何一家公司。



· 罗素1000指数中的100家“最正义”公司的2018年员工中位薪酬比全美国平均水平高出26%。

· 78%的美国受访者表示,他们至少会采取以下行动之一来奖励“正面行动的企业”,如购买一家公司的更多产品,在社交媒体上提及公司名称,或对该公司进行投资。

· 罗素1000指数公司中在工作/生活平衡指标中排名前50%的公司,其年均证券市场回报率为19.4%,较后50%的公司总体高出2.3%。