Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
C. Ken Weidner, II

Just Employment and the Common Good: A Longitudinal Study of Living Wage Policies and Practices in U.S. Jesuit Higher Education (2002-2022)

The past two decades have witnessed Occupy Wall Street, increasing awareness of economic inequality, and concerns about the affordability and sustainability of higher education in the United States. Jesuit higher education institutions (HEIs) are in the midst of reexamining the extent to which they have contributed to inequality, both historically and at present, informed in large part by Catholic Social Teaching. Jesuit institutions have championed workers’ rights and social responsibility by businesses employers, however not all Jesuit institutions have been consistent about affirming the full rights of their own workers and people employed by their contractors. This research examines policies and practices adopted over the past 20 years by Jesuit HEIs to affirm their commitment to just employment and/or living wages for their workers and contractors’ workers. Drawn from the Living Wage Policy Study of all private nonprofit and public colleges and universities in the U.S., this paper reports on the extent to which policies and practices across the Jesuit higher education network reflect our shared institutional and individual beliefs. Results include repeated surveys of Jesuit institutions, searches of institutional websites, review of policy documents, and interviews with key administrators. The discussion considers both the results of the most recent (2022) re-survey and the future of just employment in Jesuit HEIs in the United States. Among the implications for practice and this presentation at CJBE 2022 is to invite business faculty to reflect upon how their unique position equips them to discuss just employment with credibility both within and across our Jesuit institutions.