As a job seeker, you have the ability to impact the world around you. Like anyone, you want to do the “right thing,” whatever that right thing might be for you. At JUST Capital, we strive to make it easier for workers like you to do just that, by finding a company that shares your values.
We want to help you determine whether the company you’re interviewing with is JUST. Whether you care deeply about human rights, environmental protection, community development, or worker treatment and compensation, try asking some of these questions in your next interview to find out if the company is JUST enough for you.
1. Worker Pay & Benefits
Does the company pay all of its employees fairly?
In our survey of the American public, we learned that, when it comes to corporate behavior, Americans value how workers are paid and treated above all else. This issue area includes living wages, equal pay, paid time off, CEO to worker pay ratios, and health care packages.
Why it matters to ask this question: According to JUST Capital research, 76% of Americans believe that companies are responsible for paying their employees fairly. This is an important question to ask not only for your own pay, but in understanding how well the company pays its employees overall.
Digging Deeper on Worker Pay & Benefits: Does the employer sponsor health insurance? Has the employer taken any steps towards gender pay parity? Do employees receive paid time off? Do they provide 401k plans and/or retirement planning? What efforts does the company make to hire domestically?
2. Worker Treatment
Are employees at the company able to maintain a healthy work/life balance?
Questions about Worker Treatment will lead to insights about what it would actually be like to work for this company. Worker Treatment encapsulates factors such as work-life balance, workplace safety, education and training opportunities, internal growth, promotional practices, and general respect.
Why it matters to ask this question: Worker Treatment impacts all aspects of an individual’s day-to-day experience in the workplace, including his or her future at a company. A JUST Company should invest in building a safe and respectful working environment that offers its employees opportunities for both professional and personal growth. Again, this question is important not only for how it might impact your day-to-day experience at the company, but whether the company prioritizes this for all its employees.
Digging Deeper on Worker Treatment: Do they have policies to support career development? Is it possible to transition to different teams? How do you (the interviewer) see yourself growing at this company over next few years? Do employees get paid for overtime? Has the company set targets for diversity and equal opportunity? Do you (the interviewer) feel that the company supports a work-life balance? Do you feel supported to pursue issue areas you are passionate about?
3. Leadership & Ethics
How are values set by the company’s Leadership team manifested in the workplace?
As company leaders, C-level executives are responsible for setting a JUST standard. A company’s Leadership & Ethics can be measured by taking into consideration the C-Suite’s level of integrity, commitment to laws and regulations, transparency, political neutrality, and adherence to corporate tax law.
Why it matters to ask this question: If the company’s leadership is performing unjustly, other employees will not be incentivized to change their behavior. If you want to work at a JUST Company, it’s essential to make sure that your CEO not only shares your values, but is committed to integrating those values into both the long-term and short-term plans for the company.
Digging Deeper on Leadership & Ethics: Does the company have a written code of ethics? Do shareholders make cause-based investments? What nonfinancial indicators do the shareholders track to determine value? Is company leadership receptive to feedback? What communication structures are in place and do you feel that they are effective? Are there any women or People of Color on the company’s board?
4. Customer Treatment
How do employees engage and connect with customers and clients?
Companies that rank highly on Customer Treatment engage with their customers respectfully, maintain strong relationships with their consumer base, do not exhibit bias against specific audiences, and protect their customers’ privacy.
Why it matters to ask this question: Retaining healthy customer and client relationships is critical to the long-term success of any company, because happy clients turn into promoters who help grow your clientele – this we know. But how does Customer Treatment contribute to a JUST Company? Customer Treatment is reflective of company culture and values. Employees who engage respectfully with clients and customers are more likely to be consistent as coworkers, too.
Digging Deeper on Customer Treatment: What is the company’s net promoter score (NPS)? Does the company demonstrate a commitment to customer privacy? Has the company ever been involved in a customer discrimination dispute? How are customer disputes, conflicts, or issues handled internally and externally by the company?
5. Environmental Impact
What efforts does the company take to minimize environmental impact?
A company’s environmental impact is the sum of its environmental footprint and its efforts to offset negative externalities. This includes components such as pollution, waste management, resource use, and energy conservation.
Why it matters to ask this question: Corporations are responsible for protecting the planet from further damage. In 2017, we consumed our annual global resource supply in just seven months. JUST Companies view sustainability as integral to long-term strategy – by taking concrete steps to reduce their demand on the planet’s resources, they are rewarded with reduced costs, improved reputation, and lower risk, making them more reliable places to work.
Digging Deeper on Environmental Impact: Does the company address Sustainability challenges through a separate Corporate Sustainability team, hired consultants, or as part of the company’s overall strategy? Does the company invest in any offsetting activities, such as afforestation? Has an external agency certificated its Environmental Management System? What plans does the company have to move toward more sustainable practices – including circular economy models, renewable energy projects, or carbon use cuts – in the future?
6. Supply Chain Impact
Does the company conduct regular audits to monitor working conditions in its supply chain?
Supply Chain Impact includes human rights abuses and environmental damages executed by a company’s suppliers. Often these infractions take place outside of the United States where companies are subject to different sets of regulations.
Why it matters to ask this question: As job seekers in the United States, supply chain issues may not always be at the forefront of our minds in a job interview. However, with over 168 million children in child labor (ILO-IPEC, 2013), supply chain risk remains a highly relevant issue. Over the last decade, many retailers have learned that unregulated supply chains carry high reputational costs. JUST Companies should have systems set up for monitoring the working conditions and environmental impacts of its supply chain – as well as a protocol for addressing issues as they arise.
Digging Deeper on Supply Chain Impact: What targets has the company set to eliminate social risks – poor working conditions, child or forced labor, lack of a fair wage – from its supply chain, and how do they plan to achieve those targets? Does the company conduct in-house or third party audits? Would they refuse business from repressive governments? Does the company source conflict minerals for its products?
7. Local Community Impact
In what ways does the company engage with the local community?
Unless a company is based in Outer Space, chances are its immediate stakeholders include a local community. Americans believe that JUST Companies are responsible for communicating with, engaging with, and maintaining a respectful relationship with the local community.
Why it matters to ask this question: Many companies may do incredible work abroad to make the world a better place, but Americans believe a truly JUST Company begins in its own backyard. For example, companies who play a significant role in gentrification could help protect the community by hiring locally, supporting small businesses, and piloting professional development and job training programs.
Digging Deeper on Community Well-Being: Does the company make efforts to hire locally? Do they direct long-term community development programs? Does the company make contributions to charities? If the company had a conflict with the local community, what actions did it take to rectify its mistakes? How does the company communicate with local stakeholders? What opportunities do employees have to engage with the local community?
While these questions may feel tricky to ask in an interview, that’s why they are important to voice. If you want to change corporate behavior, you’ll have to start by challenging traditional business narratives – and what better place to begin than with the interview? Initiating conversations around these ideas might be the first impression JUST employers are looking for in their recruitment process.
Carly Hayden is a Marketing Intern at JUST Capital. She is completing her master’s in Communication at Stanford University, where she explores how social and immersive media can activate engagement with social and environmental causes.
JUST Capital makes it easier for people, companies, and investors to do the right thing. Since our founding, JUST Capital has surveyed over 72,000 Americans to identify what Americans believe to be just business behavior. You can learn more about JUST Capital and receive updates on the release of our upcoming annual rankings this Fall by following us here.