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LEGO Group, Microsoft and Google are the most socially responsible companies in 2017

LEGO Group, Microsoft and Google are the most socially responsible companies in 2017 according to the Global Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) RepTrak 100 report from research and advisory firm Reputation Institute.

Explaining why CSR matters to a company’s success, James Bickford, managing director of Reputation Institute says: “CSR accounts for 41% of overall reputation, therefore engendering perceptions of authentic and meaningful CSR practices is the key to having a profound impact on customer loyalty and acquisition.

 “The Global CSR RepTrak reveals that being highly regarded in terms of CSR can lead to an 8% increase in people wanting to buy products or services, an 8.2% increase in people recommending the company, and a 7.3% increase in the likelihood that people would support the company in a crisis.”

The top 10

1. LEGO Group 6. Intel
2. Microsoft 7. Robert Bosch
3. Google 8. Cisco
4. The Walt Disney Company 9. Rolls Royce Aerospace
5. BMW Group 10. Colgate-Palmolive

The value of authenticity

It is no good just talking about how ethical your business is though, says Bickford, you have to be seen to be doing good: “Data from the study reveals that authenticity is the key to driving positive perceptions of governance and citizenship – talking about ethical business practice doesn’t carry nearly as much weight as being seen to do good. Unilever, for example, has an aggressive CSR narrative, talking across multiple channels about its socially responsible credentials, but this has not translated into public opinion. The company comes in at number 60 in the RepTrak CSR ranking, with an ‘average’ score of 67 out of 100. Respondents to the study are not convinced by the Unilever CSR narrative”.

 Biggest losers

Whilst the technology sector has a strong presence amongst the top companies, some individual firms are struggling, with Apple and Samsung undergoing significant declines with their CSR rankings this year.

Companies with the biggest drop in CSR scores in 2017

8.2 Volkswagen (ranked 100)
5.3 Apple (ranked 49)
5.3 Samsung (ranked 89)
4.7 Daimler (ranked 35)
4.4 Nestle (ranked 81)

Bickford believes that in Samsung’s case, the reason for the decline could be attributed to the Galaxy Note crisis of 2016: “The overheating batteries caused harm to customers and ultimately lead to Samsung having a negative societal influence.”

Discussing other tech failures, Bickford says: “Apple also experienced backlash in 2016 when it was discovered that conditions within iPhone factories were so poor that they installed safety nets to prevent workers from killing themselves. This lead to a mass protest which gained widespread media attention, creating a negative perception of Apple’s workplace environment. It will be interesting to see how Apple’s recently announced iPhone x, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus launches will impact perceptions of the business.” 

How to score highly

In order to improve its CSR score, a company must make sure that positive steps are taken from the top. Other factors include making sure that CSR initiatives chime with the company’s ethos, making sure CSR is about deeds rather than words, and engaging everyone in the workforce in CSR endeavours.

Five key elements to being highly regarded in CSR:

  1. Having a leadership actively engaged in CSR
  2. Ensuring CSR aligns with corporate brand purpose
  3. Having a CSR agenda that is about action and not rhetoric
  4. Ensuring CSR drives internal and external engagement
  5. Ensuring CSR focusses on human and social interaction

The Reputation Institute distils it down to five key elements (see panel). Bickford concludes: “The companies that have made it into the top 10 in the RepTrak ranking have demonstrated an understanding of these five principles, allowing them to implement strategies to deliver authentic CSR programmes.”


Global CSR RepTrak 100  report is based on over 170,000 ratings from interviews with the public in the 15 largest economies (United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, USA, Canada, Japan, China, India, Australia and South Korea).

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