Construction worker

CSB Research

Quality Jobs and Worker Wellbeing

In this initiative, CSB investigates how job quality and creation can result in improved corporate financial performance and shareholder returns.

The NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) is pleased to announce the launch of a ground-breaking research project on quality jobs with the generous support of Prudential Financial and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and data and thought leadership collaboration with JUST Capital and Arabesque.

The research project, which is part of CSB’s Quality Jobs and Worker Wellbeing Research Initiative, will explore whether investing in improving the quality of employment is beneficial for corporate financial performance and investor returns. 

Over the last 50 years, many corporations have increasingly treated employees as an expense to be minimized or an externality-- through outsourcing, offshoring, or automation. Some employees that remain on payroll often earn less than a living wage, receive minimal benefits, and have stressful working environments. As this corporate approach has been justified in the name of improving shareholder returns, CSB aims to explore the drivers and financial benefits of quality jobs for companies in the Russell 1000 Index, using unique ESG data provided by our collaborators, JUST Capital and Arabesque. We will employ a novel framework to assess the security, viability, and flexibility of jobs across the Russell 1000 and determine if, and how, job quality and creation result in improved corporate financial performance and shareholder returns. 

CSB’s social science research focuses on the connections between social and environmental systems. We explore topics such as the interplay between worker wellbeing and environmental decision-making, as well as quality jobs, and corporate environmental performance. This project, launched in early 2020, builds on the CSB publication Shareholders Are Stealing Our Jobs, research on worker wellbeing, as well as our research on the Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI)


Research Questions

  1. What are the drivers of and benefits to companies that provide high-quality jobs?
  2. Which type of companies are providing high-quality jobs?
  3. What is the relationship between social and governance metrics and job quality?


Research Team

The principal investigator is Tracy Van Holt, Director of Academic Research at CSB. Tracy studies social-environmental systems, and incorporates expert knowledge, network, big data, and spatial analyses in her work. Carlos Restrepo, a research associate at CSB, specializes in sustainability and resilience, and supports research methods and quantitative modeling. Aidan Claffey is a graduate research assistant at CSB. He brings his quantitative and data analysis that focuses on finding links between quality jobs and financial performance. He is currently studying at the NYU Center for Data Science. Yanting (Crystal) Shi is a graduate research assistant at CSB. She is currently a PhD student in accounting at NYU Stern. 

We thank the following researchers for their feedback and contribution to the project: Ulrich Atz, Amber Teng, Jung-En (Sam) Wu, and the CSB team.

Partners of the Initiative

We are thankful to Prudential Financial and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their support of this work and Arabesque and JUST Capital for their thought leadership and data contributions.