A recent analysis of 170,000 company ratings from respondents in 15 countries sheds light on which are perceived by consumers as the most socially responsible. The firm found to have the best reputation for corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a toy and entertainment company beloved by children the world over: Lego.
The annual study, released last September,was compiled by the Reputation Institute (RI), a Boston-based reputation-management consulting firm. It tracks social responsibility reputations by zeroing in on consumers’ perceptions of company governance, positive influence on society and treatment of employees, scoring each with its proprietary RepTrak Pulse system.
For a look at the full list of the 100 companies perceived to have the highest reputations for CSR–and their scores–scroll to the end of this article.
Lego tops 2017’s roster of top CSR companies with 74.4 RepTrak points, having jumped from its fifth-place showing last year. In RI’s analysis, Lego beat all other companies in the perception that it behaves ethically, conducts business fairly, operates transparently, protects the environment and supports worthy causes. Lego “has embraced corporate social responsibility from top to bottom,” says RI Chief Research Officer Stephen Hahn-Griffiths.
Its Build the Change and Sustainable Materials Center initiatives—and its partnership with the World Wildlife Fund—are part of the Danish toy company’s push for sustainability.
Microsoft claimed second-place in the ranking. The Seattle-based technology firm retains its second place position from last year while earning a RepTrak CSR score of 74.1.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is a proponent of social and environmental responsibility. Hahn-Griffiths says, “Microsoft is committed to enhancing education as a highly relevant global human issue – and unlike Apple operates as an open source platform that fosters perceptions of good citizenship and good governance.”
The company’s co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates (still a major shareholder) has a stellar reputation for social responsibility due to his work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Google also scored well, though the search giant falls from its #1 perch in 2016 and this year takes third-place with a CSR score of 73.9. The Reputation Institute says that Google CEO Sundar Pichai has been willing to publicly speak out on issues he believes in, such as countering comments about Muslims made by President Donald Trump.
Google’s slight drop on the list can also be attributed to an overall raising of the bar in the way the public views CSR. Companies simply have to work harder to convince the public of their benevolence. “How people evaluate companies in general has become a lot more critical because they’re more familiar, they’re more educated,” says Hahn-Griffiths.