While the global COVID-19 pandemic was (and remains) a crisis, the forced changes in people’s behavior were an opportunity for many companies. In a statement usually attributed (probably incorrectly) to Winston Churchill, such companies “never let a good crisis go to waste.”
In a report released Monday, The RepTrak company has issued its 2021 reputation ranking of the top 100 global companies. Echoing the statement about wasting a crisis, the report begins:
The pandemic has shed an enduring light on the connection between business and society and underscored the threats posed by risks stemming from large scale societal problems. Amid uneven government responses, many companies rose to the occasion, bringing their unique capabilities to bear.
COVID-19 has shown that unexpected events and simmering issues aren’t only areas of concern; they are sources of opportunity.
The Global RepTrak100 ranking is based on data collected from 68,577 online survey respondents across the world’s 15 largest economies. Data for this survey was collected in December 2020 and January 2021 and includes other RepTrak data.
The top-ranked company is Lego Group, the only firm to post a reputation score above 80. Lego finished first last year and second in each of the three previous years. Here is RepTrak’s list of the world’s top 10 companies based on reputation scores:
On RepTrak’s 0 to 100 scale, the overall reputation score for the top 100 companies this year was 74.9. Scores improved by 2.5% year over year in 2021, its highest ever. In 2015, a reputation score of 65.4 would qualify a company for the top 100, but this year the minimum score was 72.9. In 2015, the gap between the top-ranked firm and the 100th was 13.6 points. By 2021, the gap had narrowed by nearly half to 7.5 points.
According to RepTrak, the primary drivers of a company’s reputation are its product, governance and citizenship scores, in that order, with products accounting for about 22% of the score and governance and citizenship about 14% each. By industry, RepTrak reports that consumer durables and apparel remained in the top spot with a score of 74.9, while technology hardware and equipment rose by six spots to rank second with a score of 74.1. Technology’s score was “propelled by significant improvements in perception related to Governance, Citizenship, and Workplace concerns.” The industry with the lowest rank this year was also the lowest-ranked of last year: banks and other financial services businesses.
Overall, citizenship and workplace scores received only average scores, indicating “every company can and needs to improve here. This view holds true across generations, including GenZ, a critical demographic for the next hiring wave.” The citizenship scores include respondents’ assessment of how responsibly companies are acting to protect the environment, to exert a positive influence on society, and to support good causes. Workplace scores comprise equal opportunity, a fair reward system, and concern for the well-being of employees.
RepTrak notes especially a company’s environment, social and governmental (ESG) performance:
ESG is among the top 3 most important factors when it comes to whether the public will give a company the benefit of the doubt in a time of crisis, buy from that company, trust it to do the right thing, and recommend it to others.
Other tech firms in the rankings are Google (15), Intel (16), Samsung (17), HP (31) and Apple (46). The top-ranked industrial firm is 3M (20), and the second-ranked automaker is BMW (23). Elon Musk’s SpaceX (43) and Tesla (56) both made the list, while Amazon (92) just sneaked in.
Among entertainment firms not included in the top 10 are Netflix (12) and Spotify (29), which are the top two picks of Gen Z. Nike (22) is the only other apparel company in the top 25, while Visa (26) is the only financial services firm to make the top 30.
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