Companies in the financial sector fell to the bottom of the Boston College-Reputation Institute 2009 CSR Index while top consumer brands perceived to be strong in the area of ethics, citizenship and workplace practices dominate the top 50, with Disney and Microsoft at the top, followed by Google, Honda of America, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo., General Mills, Kraft Foods, Campbell Soup Company and FedEx.
The CSR Index is created using data collected for Reputation Institute's 2009 Global Reputation Pulse Study. Researchers use a subset of survey results that focus on more than 200 companies with a dominant presence in the United States and believed to have a reasonably high recognition factor with the general public. The data captures public perception about a company's corporate citizenship, governance and workplace practices in the United States.
"While the overall reputation of the American business sector has been tarnished with a broad brush, many individual companies still stand out as responsible leaders in the eyes of the public," says Chris Pinney, director of research and policy at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. "To build a reputation as a leader in corporate social responsibility, companies should focus on strong governance practices, positive working conditions, and a commitment to supporting the needs of communities and the environment."
"A company's reputation today goes beyond products, services and financial performance," added Kasper Nielsen managing partner of Reputation Institute. "Organizations face increasingly higher expectations from the general public across the different aspects of their business."
On a scale of 1-to-100, the top-ranked Walt Disney Company scored 79.52 followed by Microsoft at 78.66, Google at 77.03, Honda of America at 76.65 and Johnson & Johnson at 76.57.
One of the biggest changes since the 2008 Index is the presence of seven value-conscious retailers on the list. In the 2009 CSR Index, Target, JC Penney, Kroger, Kohl's and BJ's Wholesale Club are new to the Top 50, joining Publix Super Markets, Costco Wholesale and Lowe's, who made the list last year.
The research shows that the general public tends to rate makers of consumer products, computers and beverages higher along social dimensions. Industries that fall below the global average include banking, finance, oil and gas, utilities and telecommunications. Reputation Institute, which measures corporate reputation in more than 25 countries annually, notes that the U.S. public put a higher premium on ethics and governance practices.