SRI comments on CR Mag's Top 100 Corporate Citizens

During March '11, Corporate Responsibility Magazine thecro.com released its now 12th annual list of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens list.  Please click here-->>100Best pdf.

On the bottom of this article we've provided a snapshot of the list (the top 15) courtesy of CR Magazine.  Below, we make a few comments on this newer list given our familiarity with its history.



The most significant observations are below:
  • The process to get onto the list have become more transparent.  This is very important for a magazine that is seeking the same from corporations.  In fact, in years past CR Magazine had been criticized for being a bunch of hypocrites as their Corporate Citizens methodology had not been clear.  I examined both their overall methodology and broad categories (see below) as well as the minutia within these categories.  Essentially, I like what I see for several reasons.  For example, the questions are asked in a way that is not "framed" and the required answers are clear and objective, like True or False.  Such surveying will be useful going forward for historical analysis.
  •  Note well that each broad category has a weighting.  We recommend users focus on the categories that are most useful.  This website, for example, will de-emphasize the "Financial" weighting as it will be conducting independent  financial analysis, which requires significantly more detail and transparency than a simple score that is provided on the list.  SRI website would like to see a higher percentage for Governance than the 7% that's assigned.
  •  Listed companies that have acted "naughty" are now given "yellow cards", or "red cards" if they were really bad.  Yellow card companies remain on the list, while red carded ones are excluded from the list for a 3YR period.  (Red carded cos excluded from the 2011 list were: Allergan, Exxon Mobil and Pfizer.)  I am glad this carding has been initiated because most of the companies on the list are large & complex.  Companies, like people, always have "dirt in their closet" depending on how hard you dig.  The carding process allows a first screen, if not, at least an awareness of the above fact.
  • Unfortunately, small companies are now excluded from the list.  CR 2007 list, for example, included non-blues such as: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Salesforce.com, Interface, Lam Research, Gaiam Inc., Wainwright Bank & Trust, Chittenden, Energy Conversion Devices, Ormat Tech, WGL Holdings, Bright Horizons, Baldor, Advent Software, Coldwater Creek, etc.  One concern we've had lately, has been the fact that most Blue Chips seem to be on these lists.  Just think, if they're 100 cos on the list, then 20% of the S&P 500 are included.  We also don't like the fact that ESG has become another cost-center for large companies.  This gives them ESG bragging rights (and aids in marketing efforts) and seems to lack authenticity.  But, yes, it's true that it is better to have such companies than none at all.
  • We manually cross-referenced CR Magazine's lists with others.  Here's what we found.  Several of the CR Top 100 were ranked highly by CSRHub.  This is a website that aggregates ratings from several ESG data contributors.  We screened for CSRHub's highest rated US-based companies.  These companies typically are rated between 59 and 68, and are thus ranked in the top 5% of the US database.  This compares to the average of 48 in the database.  We then checked this list against CR Magazine's list.  We found a total of 36 of CSRHub top 5% ranked companies on CR Magazine's list.  Half were in the Top 50. 
    • Highest ranked companies were within the Technology industry, with the highest rating honor going to Hewlett Packard (a whopping 68 rating!).
    • Other companies with high CSRHub ratings that were also on the (Top 15) list were:
      • Johnson Controls (64 CSRHub rating)
      • IBM (67, and 2nd highest ranked, and tied w/ Intel Corp.)
      • Bristol-Myers Squibb (59)
      • 3M Corp (60)
      • Kimberly-Clarke (60)
      • Nike (61)
      • Gap (62)
      • General Mills (60)
      • Intel (67) and 2nd highest ranked
      • Coca-Cola (60)
      • Pinnacle West (62)
  • In addition, the CR List was cross-checked with Boston College's ("BC") "Most Socially Responsible Companies in the U.S. in 2010."  This list comprises 50 companies, and has a high proportion of companies within the Technology industry.  Hmm, maybe that industry (especially Software cos) have an unfair advantage, No?   We found a total of 22 of BC's Top 50 in the CR Top 100 list.  A large number (17) of them were in the CR's highest 50 ranked.  See below for the Top 15 cross-reference with the BC list:
      • Campbell Soup (ranked 16th by BC)
      • 3M Corp (50)
      • Hewlett-Packard (48)
      • General Mills (22)
      • Intel(12)
      • Coca-Cola (36)
      • Avon (28)
      •  * Avon's 16th rated on the CR list (hence not on the table below)
  •  But what would the Working Mothers ("WM") of the U.S. say about CR's Corporate Citizens list ?  Well, we also cross-referenced against WM's lists.  We examined WM's list of Best Green Companies for America's Children, Best Companies for Hourly Workers and their popular 100 Best Companies.  For the 100 list, the Top 10 were checked WM does not rank the companies other than providing a Top 10 list.  Below are the names that appeared both on the CR list and Working Mothers' lists:
      • Campbell Soup
      • General Mills
      • Intel Corp
      • Johnson &  Johnson
      • Starbucks
      • Clorox
  • Last, but not least, we checked CR's list against the Companies that Care Honor Roll (2009, 2010).  This list tends to have small, private and lesser known companies so it rarely makes other ESG lists.  Some of the companies we recognized as being on other CR lists from the last 3 years:
      • Baxter International
      • CB Richard Ellis
      • Interface Inc.
Well, that all folks!  We, at the SRI website, hope these rankings help investors and other stakeholders in their initial screenings.  It helped us, as Interface Inc. was extensively written upon on this site after noting it was on a past CR list.


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