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Why ‘Justice’ Matters to Facility Managers

Dec. 18, 2018

Merriam-Webster chose “justice” as its Word of the Year for 2018. Justice is more than a concept – it’s the philosophy behind the JUST facility label. Here’s how facilities professionals can play a role in creating a just and equitable workplace.

Merriam-Webster named “justice” as its Word of the Year for 2018, citing a 74 percent jump over 2017 in how often the word’s dictionary entry is consulted.

“The concept of justice was at the center of many of our national debates in the past year: racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, economic justice,” the dictionary publisher writes in its Word of the Year announcement. “In any conversation about these topics, the question of just what exactly we mean when we use the term justice is relevant.”

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One building certification, the JUST label, attempts to put some concrete metrics behind the term. JUST is a social justice label and voluntary disclosure tool for workplaces and trade unions to demonstrate how they operate and how they treat their employees and communities. Facilities professionals have an important role in helping organizations earn the JUST label.

How Does JUST Work?

If you’re familiar with the Declare label from the International Living Future Institute, you’ll have no trouble adjusting to JUST. It uses the same nutrition label approach, but instead of Declare’s focus on material health, JUST features 22 social and equity indicators in six broad categories:

  • Diversity
  • Equity
  • Safety
  • Worker benefit
  • Local benefit
  • Stewardship

To earn the label, your organization must provide information on at least 19 of the 22 indicators by fulfilling the requirements in the user manual.

Many of the credits will fall under the purview of your organization’s executives or human resources department, such as the public non-discrimination commitment, the demonstration of a gender- and ethnically balanced workforce, and the proof that full-time employees make up the majority of the organization’s workforce.

“For many reasons and for many meanings, one thing’s for sure: justice has been on the minds of many people in 2018,” Merriam-Webster explains in its Word of the Year announcement. With help from the facilities department, it can be on the minds of your organization’s stakeholders, too.

However, there are some key credits that overlap with facilities management’s responsibilities.

How to Earn the JUST Label

As a facilities manager, you already play a vital role in maintaining a safe workplace. You might also be involved in procurement or have influence over which products are specified for projects. That’s why you’re uniquely positioned to help your organization earn a high score on these JUST indicators.

Occupational Safety

This indicator requires organizations to meet or exceed all government rules and regulations for workplace health and safety, as well as maintaining a positive safety track record. This includes having a written and publicly posted policy on occupational health and safety.

If you’ve been putting off ordering a new OSHA job safety and health poster to replace an aged or damaged one, now is a great time to take care of it.

Participating in OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Programs, an employer recognition system that recognizes smart practices in health and safety, contributes to a higher rating in the Occupational Safety category.

Hazardous Chemicals

Does your organization use any hazardous materials? Make sure you’re complying with OSHA requirements for labeling and storing them, providing material safety data sheets and adequately training the rest of the facilities staff on safe handling.

Worker Happiness

This credit requires your organization to measure employee happiness once a year using a simple two-question survey.

[Related: Biophilia Study: Keys to Employee Health and Wellness]

You can’t directly impact how people answer the two questions (“Considering all aspects of your job, how satisfied are you with your organization?” and “How likely is it that you would recommend your organization as a good place to work?”), but without a facility that’s safe, comfortable and accessible, your organization has no hope of achieving the minimum required happiness rating.

Facilities professionals often operate in the background, but issues like thermal comfort, adequate ventilation and inspiring environments contribute greatly to how people perceive their workplace.

Local Sourcing

This credit encourages community development with local and regional product sourcing.

Local sourcing recognizes a 300-mile radius from the community, while regional sourcing allows a 600-mile radius. If your job includes specifying products, track which ones are purchased within the appropriate distance and make sure they’re included in the product sourcing data that your organization will submit to JUST.

“For many reasons and for many meanings, one thing’s for sure: justice has been on the minds of many people in 2018,” Merriam-Webster explains in its Word of the Year announcement. With help from the facilities department, it can be on the minds of your organization’s stakeholders, too.

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About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has been with BUILDINGS since 2010. She is a two-time FOLIO: Eddie award winner who aims to deliver practical, actionable content for building owners and facilities professionals.

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