NEW YORK: Supermarket chain Wegmans Food Markets topped the inaugural Societal ROI Index, a study conducted by Finn Partners and The Harris Poll.
Billed as a new diagnostic tool, the index examines the probability of consumers saying something positive, recommending the company as an employer, and welcoming expansion into the community.
Societal ROI looks at three broad areas: ethical stewardship, civic minds, and visible values.
Based on that criteria, Wegmans came out on top, followed by Patagonia, UPS, Aldi, and Microsoft.
The index’s data was taken from Harris Poll’s 2018 Reputation Quotient. Online surveys were conducted between December 11, 2017, and January 12, 2018, with 25,800 U.S. adults participating.
Wendy Salomon, Harris Poll’s MD of corporate reputation, said grocers are a common sight down the list, because of their "palpable presence." Grocers are in "consumers’ homes, based on Main Street, nourishing families," she said.
Consumers’ expectations for how companies should engage communities has expanded, she added.
Companies are already devoting resources toward building their profile in their communities, Salomon noted. But knowing what impact they were making and whether that could be tied back to the bottom line remained a question mark.
Amy Terpeluk, senior partner of CSR and social impact at Finn Partners, noted another problem: there’s a "knowledge gap" among consumers.
"For us, it’s helping clients mobilize their private sector resources to address public problems in sustainable ways," she said. "This is a new diagnostic tool to measure reputation for social good and identify opportunities to realign for maximum impact. But to inform this process, we had to look at the social issues landscape."
Thus, the Societal ROI Index was created to provide clients "a business case and diagnostics tool for whether you’re going in the right direction," Salomon said.
As part of this push, Finn Partners and Harris released its "Social Issues Survey: Top Social Issues for Americans," to examine what issues Americans believed companies should address.
People surveyed agreed that companies should make a positive impact on data privacy (65%) than any other issue, but only 16% said they’ve made a very positive impact on these issues.
Access to healthcare (61%) and supporting veterans (59%) were the second and third-most important issues for Americans. Only 18% of people surveyed said companies were making very positive headway in health access, and only 22% said the same about supporting veterans.
Out of those surveyed, 46% of said companies should address gender equality, and only 16% thought they’ve made a very positive difference on that issue; 44% said climate change should be addressed, compared to 12% who said companies were making a very positive impact; and only 30% of Americans thought LGBTQ rights should be addressed by companies, while 13% said companies were making a very positive impact.
The online survey was conducted by The Harris Poll from July 10, 2018 to July 12, 2018 among 2,012 U.S. adults.