JLens is pleased to announce the 2019 list of “Most Kosher" US Companies. Four years ago, JLens created the Jewish Advocacy Strategy to invest in the 300 largest and most influential US public corporations in order to conduct investor advocacy on behalf of the Jewish community.
JLens considered using standardized ESG (environment, social, governance) research to guide our investment strategy. However, a thorough review of ESG research providers revealed an unexpected and significant gap in values alignment with Jewish communal concerns. This included inherent bias in human rights assessments related to Israel, as well as a lack of alignment on other key Jewish values, such as coexistence and religious tolerance.
As a result, JLens developed an in-house methodology to score and rank companies through a Jewish lens. JLens’ scoring of companies is based on six core pillars derived from Judaism’s framework of obligations (mitzvot). Through robust data collection, in-depth research, and direct engagement, JLens has identified 18 corporations that represent excellence and outperform sector peers on a wide array of environmental and social issues through a Jewish lens. The Jewish Advocacy Strategy overweights these 18 “Most Kosher" Companies.
Advocacy and Representation
JLens is the only Jewish investor voice influencing corporate values in the boardroom. Through investor advocacy, the JLens team advocates on issues that matter most to the Jewish community through direct engagement, participating in investor letters with key partners, and when necessary, filing shareholder resolutions on issues relevant to the Jewish community.
The overarching Jewish value guiding JLens' approach to responsible investing is hocheach tocheach (‘constructive rebuke’ from Leviticus 19:17). As there is no perfect company, attempts to solely screen out 'bad actors' or only invest in 'best actors' miss the greatest opportunity to impact companies’ social responsibility development, and engage directly to influence corporate leadership.
18 “Most Kosher" Companies
The 18 corporations in JLens’ “Most Kosher" US Companies list tie sustainability outcomes to corporate mission and direct investments in the circular economy; invest in communities and employees with strong commitments to equitable pay, diversity initiatives, and work-life balance; encourage responsible energy and resource use by managing climate risks with science-based targets; all while managing supply chains to embrace and commit to the same principles. A majority of the 18 companies operate in Israel or have significant relationships and direct investments in the Israeli economy, as well as strong programs that foster coexistence and religious inclusion across operations.
1. Accenture, Management Consulting, Technology and Outsourcing Services
Accenture reports to JLens that any client work must align with the company’s core values. By 2025, the company aims to achieve a 50/50 gender-balanced workforce. Accenture embodies best-in-class religious inclusion policies regarding flexible religious holiday accommodations, “dress for your day” inclusive clothing policies, and dietary options. The company is a leader in reducing net carbon emissions, including encouraging 75% of its suppliers to take action to reduce emissions. Accenture is deeply invested in the Israeli economy with an R&D lab in Herzliya as well as Accenture technology competitions across universities, among other technology investments in Israel.
2. Aon, Insurance Broker
Aon offers insurance products addressing climate risk and adaptation as well as momentum towards insurance solutions to scale renewable energy. Aon consults with non-profits to develop accessible insurance products that meet the needs of the most vulnerable populations, like rice paddy farmers in Sri Lanka. The company procures 100% of its energy from renewable sources in Europe and Africa and is a leader in offshore wind. Aon is committed to fostering coexistence through its Chicago United apprentice program and its pro-bono legal assistance to asylum seekers.
3. Cisco, Communications Equipment
By 2022 at least 85% of Cisco’s electricity needs will be generated from renewable sources alongside other clean technology achievements include energy efficient data centers, LEED green building construction, solar installations, circular design initiatives to reduce/reuse packaging, reduction of virgin plastics, and electronics take-back and recycling programs. Through JLens’ dialogue, the company shared its strong religious inclusion practices such as fair accommodation of religious holidays and dietary needs. Cisco has an established partnership with the Israeli government to accelerate the country’s Digital Agenda, and has invested in Palestinian technology companies and fostered economic partnerships between Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs. Cisco is also a leader in working to alleviate the global refugee crisis through disaster relief and economic empowerment.
4. Ecolab, Specialty Chemicals
Ecolab embodies circular economy principles at the “water-energy nexus” to help companies reduce their environmental footprint. Internally, the company has a low GHG emissions base, and is committed to environmental impact cuts, including a 25% reduction in waste and effluent discharge, and a 20% reduction in water use. EcoLab works with large clients in the extractives and agricultural sectors to reduce water use and increase water quality, such as Archer Daniels Midland, as well as steel manufacturers in India. Ecolab has operations in Modi’in, Israel.
5. General Mills, Packaged Foods
General Mills (GM) is working to reduce carbon emissions by 28% across its agricultural, packaging and ingredients (mainly dairy) supply chain by 2025, and has made significant progress towards tracking supply chain GHG emissions of its largest 100 suppliers. To support healthy food programs, GM offers reduced portions, and is the only packaged foods company focusing on regenerative agriculture through a pilot program converting thousands of farmland acres to organic and restorative farming techniques, engaging in pollinator health, eliminating harmful pesticides, and restoring ecosystem biodiversity to support farmer resilience.
6. Hilton, Hotel & Leisure
Conrad Hilton believed that hotels and travel were a way to bridge peace by bringing cultures together. The company recently launched a series of social impact videos and a white paper outlining Hilton’s role in economic and social empowerment in the communities where it operates to foster coexistence. Hilton has a hotel in Jerusalem as well as Tel Aviv (one of its top five profitable hotels globally), and is the first hotel in the industry to commit to science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by moving to renewable energy.
7. Intel, Semiconductor
Intel is an industry leader across several environmental and social factors and has substantial business ties to Israel. Currently, 100% of the company’s US and EU operations run on renewable energy and 73% elsewhere in the world, including Israel. To address the lack of supply of skilled female and minority workers in technical positions, Intel is investing millions of dollars in STEM education at the high school and college levels, as well as working with universities to encourage more women and minorities to pursue STEM careers. Intel leads its sector in sourcing conflict-free minerals. Through JLens’ advocacy, the company has agreed to consider adopting science-based targets when setting their next round of emissions standards.
8. Kellogg, Packaged Foods
Kellogg shared with JLens its goal to transform food systems away from monoculture farming towards diverse plant portfolios. The company has committed to a fully traceable palm oil supply chain and articulated a no deforestation, no carbon peatland burning, and no exploitation policy. Kellogg plans to sustainably source its key ingredients (corn, wheat, rice, oats, potatoes, sugar, cocoa, palm oil, fruit, honey). Within direct operations, Kellogg commits to 100% renewable energy by 2050, and has already reached 50% clean energy across operations. The company holds its supply chain accountable through the Field to Market program. Kellogg’s well-being framework fosters coexistence strategies for employees and consumers by empowering socio-emotional and physical wellness.
9. Kimberly Clark, Household & Personal Products
Kimberly Clark is a leader in circular economy resource-use reductions. The company’s supply chain is majority Forest Stewardship Council certified, at 84% in 2017, up from 7% in 2006. The company received the FSC Leadership in Conservation Award in 2018, and achieved waste to landfill diversion at 95%. Kimberly Clark has targeted over 25% of its net sales from environmentally innovative products since 2015. In Europe, six more personal care products were granted the EcoLabel, which accounts for more than 40% of KC products in Europe. Kimberly Clark employs around 1,400 people in Israel in various manufacturing plants.
10. Marriott, Hotel & Leisure
Marriott is a leader in ethical recruitment to address the vulnerability of migrant workers, and educates employees and the hotel industry at large on sex trafficking and forced labor. Marriott is also a sector leader across material sustainability impact. The company has set innovative targets to reduce water consumption and intensity, well above peers. Marriott continues to demonstrate strong performance in managing energy use in its operations with energy reduction goals, employing innovative efficiency programs and partnerships. The company has hotels in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
11. Merck, Pharmaceutical
Merck is top-ranked in the Access to Medicine Index across capacity building and drug access to disadvantaged populations. Merck’s products and R&D pipeline address almost 90% of the top 20 global burdens of disease, up from 55% in 2012. Merck’s recent product recalls have been less severe in terms of frequency and severity than many of its peers. It is also one of the few companies to engage in non-exclusive voluntary licensing with generic manufacturers, allowing affordable access to drugs in high need. Merck employs pricing policies based on affordability, a best-in-sector practice.
12. Microsoft, Software Infrastructure
Microsoft has achieved 100% carbon neutrality from its energy consumption and aims to reduce operational carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 against a 2013 baseline. Microsoft reports that the cloud gains energy efficiencies, as net data use increases. The company has strong diversity and inclusion policies, including an emphasis on religious inclusion with dietary accommodations, flexible religious holidays and dress. Microsoft has a significant presence in Israel, with an R&D Center in Haifa and main campus in Herzliya Israel, focused on security advanced threat analytics. According to Microsoft Israel, 74% of its management are women.
13. Motorola Solutions, Communications Equipment
Motorola is a leader in product stewardship, with a strong supplier code of conduct to tackle labor issues in its supply chain, and comprehensive policies to recycle electronic waste. Unlike many of its sector peers, Motorola discloses its goal for a conflict-free mineral supply chain. Motorola also sets the industry standard with data protection best practices. The company has a long historical relationship with Israel since the 1940s. Motorola Solutions Israel provides the IDF with mobile communication systems and has been a long-time pioneer in the Israeli telecommunications industry. Motorola also launched an Innovation Center in Israel to enhance collaborations with local industries and academia.
14. Nvidia, Consumer Electronics Technology
Nvidia disclosed to JLens its best-in-class religious inclusion policies, including religious holiday flexibility, dedicated prayer spaces, and dietary accommodation. The company is deeply committed to investing in innovation in the Israeli economy, with million-dollar investments in the Israeli start-up sector. Following Intel’s leadership, Nvidia has created a publicly stated policy restricting the sourcing of raw conflict materials.
15. Prologis, Logistics Real Estate
Prologis is the first real estate logistics company to make long term commitments to reduce carbon emissions by setting science-based targets. The company reports to JLens that its social and environmental commitments are integrated throughout its operations and client base, including Amazon and Walmart. Prologis fosters coexistence through its Community Workforce Initiative in Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago, including partnering with local workforce development organizations to provide training in logistics and job placement to underserved communities. Prologis’ diversity and inclusion metrics are strong with a 50/50 male/female workforce.
16. Henry Schein, Healthcare Equipment & Medical Distribution
Henry Schein is a leader in addressing pandemic supply chain crisis and emergency preparedness in the healthcare industry. The company fosters coexistence and has best in class community healthcare access programs. Henry Schein shared with JLens its’ global commitment to donate health care supplies through public-private partnerships. Focused on supply chain logistics capabilities and data analytics platforms to disseminate information in a pandemic, this partnership network includes nearly 30 organizations, including the WHO, World Food Programme, and the World Economic Forum. One of the strongest health care access programs was piloted in Israel, where Schein has operations.
17. Starbucks, Restaurant
Starbucks sets the gold standard for fostering coexistence in post-conflict and economically disadvantaged regions. The company invests in economic recovery in coffee growing communities including Costa Rica, Rwanda, Croatia, DRC, and Colombia, and offers free reforestation of thousands of coffee trees in each region, community watershed restoration, and support of over 250,000 entrepreneurial businesses run by women in the supply chain. Starbucks offers healthcare coverage to part time employees, and has reached 100% gender and racial pay equity for US partners, and is expanding that initiative globally. Starbucks cafés complete unconscious bias trainings since the company came face-to-face with racial bias at one of its café chains in the past year. Starbucks reports to JLens it takes diversity and inclusion very seriously.
18. Xcel Energy, Utility
Xcel Energy is the first major US electric and natural gas company to commit to 100% clean electricity by 2050. The company reported to JLens it sees itself as a catalyst to transform the energy sector in the eight states it operates, including the wind- and solar-rich states of New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Texas. As Xcel retires its nuclear plants and decommissions coal with the explicit purpose towards a clean energy future, the company works hand in hand with public utility commissions. Xcel is a leader in coexistence strategies and a just transition to clean energy in the communities it operates through the development of green new jobs. Xcel includes training on diversity and inclusion across its service territories and aims to increase the diversity of new hires.