CHESTNUT HILL, MA: US consumers ranked Walt Disney Company, Microsoft, and Google tops in terms of CSR, according to data from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and Reputation Institute. The 2009 CSR Index data is collected from a larger Reputation Institute survey that focuses on more than 200 companies with a dominant presence in the US.
Consumers ranked makers of consumer products, computers, and beverages high in areas of ethics, citizenship, and workplace practices. Industries that fared poorly included banking, finance, oil and gas, utilities, and telecommunications.
Walt Disney climbed to the top position, with a score of 79.52 out of 100, after placing fourth last year. Microsoft vaulted to second from tenth position, with 78.66. And Google, which topped last year's index, dropped to 77.03.
Whirlpool, which ranked 23rd on the list, issued a press release about the index to highlight its various CSR initiatives. Others didn't, but FedEx, which moved into the top 10 for the first time, does look to such rankings to validate the success of its CSR outreach.
“It is a way you can measure if your programs are resonating with the public,” said Rose Jackson Flenorl, manager of social responsibility at FedEx. She said over the past year or so, FedEx has added more content to its CSR-focused Web site, including video testimonials of people who have benefited from the company's CSR efforts.
The Boston College-Reputation Institute CSR Index Survey is just one of a growing number of indexes that rank CSR. Brendan May, MD of Planet 2050, Weber Shandwick's CSR practice, told PRWeek companies should not take these indexes too seriously.
“It gives companies something to aim for,” May said. “But these lists use different criteria, so you'll find some companies at the top of some lists and at the bottom of others. A high impact business could appear high on a list because it has done more than anyone else to reduce its environmental footprint, for example, but yet the footprint remains enormous.”
He added that companies are better served focusing on their actual CSR efforts, rather on lists, given there is currently no gold standard in terms of CSR ranking.
“Some [of the lists] are laughable, and everyone in the sustainable development world giggles that some company got applauded on some list,” May said. “Some are better than others, or feel intuitively to be more logical. But they are only as good as the information that companies provide to them [about their CSR efforts].”