J&J, Disney CSR leaders

15 October 2010

NEW YORK: Johnson & Johnson, Disney and Kraft are among the companies perceived to have the best corporate social responsibility credentials, a survey has found.

The Reputation Institute and Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship assessed major firms active in the US based on the views of 7,790 adults concerning their CSR, governance and workplace credentials.

It was estimated that these three factors account for more than 40% of overall perceptions regarding brand owners.

Johnson & Johnson, the healthcare giant, claimed top spot after scoring 82.67 points, a 6.1 point leap year-on-year.

This came even though the company has been forced to recall a large amount of goods linked to its McNeil Consumer Healthcare arm.

"We are driven by a steadfast commitment to address the conditions that led to these recalls," William Weldon, J&J's chairman/ceo, wrote in its recent Sustainability Report.

"There is still much work ahead, but we will do everything necessary to bring McNeil quality to the level that consumers expect of us, and that we expect of ourselves."

Elsewhere, the Walt Disney Company occupied second place with 81.33 points, measured against 79.52 points in 2009.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia conference in September, Robert Iger, Disney's ceo, suggested popular recognition was not always matched by the investor community.

"At times we feel under-appreciated," he said.

Food group Kraft took third having received 80.56 points, and ceo Irene Rosenfeld – one of only 15 women holding this role at the 500 biggest US corporations – believed encouraging diversity is essential.

"As a consumer goods company, it is critically important that our leadership reflect the demographics of the populations that we serve," she argued.

"Increasingly, more companies need to take this task on to create the pipelines that are necessary. It's an important social responsibility. More importantly, it is a business imperative."

Microsoft, the IT specialist, was fourth on 80.18 points, followed by PepsiCo, registering 80.15 points.

Apple posted 80.11 points in sixth, and the rest of the top ten, housing Hershey, SC Johnson, Kellogg and Google, delivered totals in the 78 points to 76 points range.

By category, the beverage segment headed the rankings on 74.30 points, beating FMCG's 73.25 points, food manufacturing's 73.04 points and industrial products' 72.90 points.

The energy sector recorded just 56.97 points, while financial service providers generated an average 60.45 points, airlines and aerospace received 63.76 points, behind information and media on 64.41 points.

Organisations boosting their reputation by five points enjoy a 6% uptick in the number of people who would positively recommend its goods and services, according to the Reputation Institute.

Unilever, the maker of Knorr, Lipton and Hellmann's, saw scores climb 5.44 points on an annual basis, and has implemented a variety of schemes, such as developing eco-friendly offerings.

"Hitting that consumer sweet spot, which is the benefit to the consumer and the benefit to the environment, is the key to success," said Nicola McLauren, Unilever's consumer and market insight manager.

Procter & Gamble experienced a modest 0.51 point gain, and hopes to enhance its position through innovation.

"Innovation that truly improves peoples' lives is more important than ever because many of the economies in which we operate are still recovering from recession," ceo Bob McDonald said at a shareholder meeting earlier this week.

Data sourced from Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship; additional content by Warc staff