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It is a big week for the ranking business ... as the Harris Poll is out with its annual ranking of the top companies in the nation for corporate social responsibility (CSM) efforts - the three retailers are on top of the list.

Wegmans is number one, Publix is number two, and Amazon is number three.

The study says that "only eight of the 100 companies measured achieved 'excellent' CSR ratings this year; while this is the most ever in the 18 years Harris Poll has measured CSR as a major dimension of corporate reputation, it falls far from expectations.

Harris, in evaluating social responsibility, prioritizes employee treatment, ethics, and respectful treatment of customers as the most important corporate social responsibility issues, followed by providing affordable and accessible products and services and safety.

Rounding out the top 10 are Tesla, USAA, Lowe's, UPS, LL Bean, Walt Disney and Whole Foods.

The bottom 10 are AIG, Bank of America, Volkswagen, ExxonMobil, BP, Takata, Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and, in last place, Monsanto.

There is an interesting split in terms of how consumers perceive social responsibility efforts on the part of the companies with which they do business.

"Forty-five percent of consumers agree that companies develop corporate social responsibility programs because it is the role they believe they should play as leaders in their communities and is primarily motivated by their responsibility to do what’s right," Harris said in its statement. "Conversely, 40 percent of consumers say that when companies develop corporate social responsibility activities, they only do so to bolster their image and are primarily motivated by publicity possibilities; they are not truly focused on the effectiveness of their social responsibility efforts."
KC's View:
I've always felt that it isn't that hard to tell the difference between companies that are heartfelt about social responsibility and those who are just doing it for positive press. You can just tell the people who only want to write a check ... they're always just a little too aggressive about getting out the press release, and they tend to be more scattershot than focused.

I do think there are some warning signs in the list ... especially among the companies at the bottom. The Monsanto positioning may speak volumes about some of the reasons people tend to be distrustful about its approach to GMOs. And as for Goldman Sachs ... I worry a little bit that so many people from that company's culture now seem to be running the country, which ought to be a height of social responsibility.

(Think about it. Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and Monsanto are all seen as being less socially responsible than Takata - the air bag manufacturer that has admitted to poor manufacturing processes that resulted in 17 people getting killed, that was responsible for the biggest auto safety recall in history, and that had to pay $1 billion in penalties for its sins.)