March 10, 2009

CRO Magazine's 100 Best Corporate Citizens

CRO Magazine recently released its annual list of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens. Bristol Myers-Squibb is number one this year - after spending last year in CRO's "Penalty Box". (In fact, five of the 8 company's in last year's Penalty Box are ranked in the top eleven this year.) General Mills, IBM, Merck, and HP rounded out the top five. Intel, Cisco, and Starbucks have all made the list each of the ten years it has been released; they are the only companies to do so.

I find the methodology of the report interesting. According to the company, in its statement accompanying the list, "CRO’s 10th annual 100 Best List (compiled by IW Financial and edited by CRO) is completely based on publicly available information." On the one hand, I'm concerned that publicly available information might not fully represent the companies' corporate citizenship programs. As a corporate philanthropy consultant, I did a lot of benchmarking, and I know that I could get significantly more information talking to company representatives than by looking solely at public sources. That said, this methodology may encourage companies to make more information publicly available.

Perhaps most importantly, CRO also reports that last year, "76 companies that fell short contacted CRO to ask what they needed to do to make the list next year." By establishing criteria for what constitutes good corporate citizenship, CRO establishes best practices, providing a road map that companies can follow in a still-evolving field. By publishing the results of its evaluation in a "100 Best" list, the magazine provokes the competitive instincts of companies seeking to eek out an advantage in competitive markets. As such, this list gives us a snapshot of where we stand today, but it may also help us move forward tomorrow.

Have any of you used this list, or another ranking, to evaluate and improve your programs?

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