WASHINGTON: Ben & Jerry's, Disney, and Johnson & Johnson are seen as the best corporate citizens in the US, according to a new survey by Golin/Harris International.
The survey of 500 consumers, which was conducted this spring, asked people which issues they believe should top a list of a company's priorities. The top responses were environmental protection, consumer safety, and energy conservation.
The study also found that 74% of respondents see good corporate citizenship as "absolutely important" or "very important" to their trust of a company. Furthermore, 70% said that they would begin to do business with a company or increase business they already do based specifically on a company's record of being socially responsible.
"What we're seeing now is a renewed scrutiny into what companies are doing. People are going to look for companies to be committed to the social bottom line," said Rob Anderson, director of Golin's social marketing group.
Anderson added that companies that think they can meet social-responsibility obligations simply by giving money to a variety of charities aren't doing enough. Companies should coordinate and unify their philanthropic efforts to gain maximum exposure, he advised.
Golin found that the most important thing a company can do to demonstrate that it is a good corporate citizen is to treat its employees well. Seventy percent of survey respondents rated that highest.
Next came "ethical and honest treatment in everyday business practices," at 65%, and "does the right thing when people need help," at 48%.
The survey found more cynicism about corporate America among older Americans than among those under age 35.
While only 49% of respondents 55 and older said that US business is headed in the right direction socially, 66% of 18- to 34-year-old respondents said that it is heading in the right direction.
The survey was conducted via the internet for Golin by NFO WorldGroup, which is part of Interpublic Group and also compiles the consumer-confidence index for the Conference Board.