More than ever, stakeholders and -increasingly now- investors are interested in Corporate Responsibility (CR) metrics, which can include Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as they are top drivers of stakeholder advocacy. Business leaders face increasing pressure from stakeholders for better disclosures, more transparency, and integration of ESG practices into their business strategies. In addition, there is also pressure to actively engage with stakeholders and integrate their views and opinions in the corporate decision making process.
Corporate reputation for the world’s leading companies
RepTrak Company™ recently published its 2021 Global RepTrak® 100 report, which is an annual ranking of corporate reputation for the world’s leading companies. RepTrak measures corporate reputation using reputation scores from 0-100 that measure how people feel about a particular company. Reputation scores show a strong positive relationship with business outcomes, such as people’s willingness to buy, recommend, or trust a company.
This year’s ranking was based on 68,577 respondents collected globally across the 15 largest economies. The report revealed that the top 100 companies achieved a “strong” global reputation score of 74.9 in 2021 compared to 73.1 in 2020, with an increase of 2.5%. Since 2018, these companies have maintained a positive trajectory.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of 2020, 100 companies have emerged with a stronger reputation than ever before. These 100 companies not only responded to crises but also engaged and communicated their responses to stakeholders. Corporate results prove that there is no bad time to focus on company reputation; if reputation scores can improve in 2020, they can improve anytime.
Reputation is not static, and staying the same is equivalent to falling behind, so leaders need to constantly measure and monitor their corporate reputation. In 2015, companies needed a reputation score of 65.4 to make their entry into the top 100. With increased competitiveness today, companies need a score of at least 72.9 to reach the top 100. Several companies that made the 2020 Global RepTrak® 100 achieved similar scores this year, but with competition, what was good last year is average today.
Because of competition, even companies that have a strong reputation are at risk. The 2021 ranking saw 18 new entrants to the top 100. These 18 entrants greatly enhanced their reputation, with their reputation scores being 5-10 points higher than the companies they replaced.
Company reputation by industry
In terms of industries, the Technology Hardware & Equipment industry made the biggest improvement, jumping from eighth place in 2020 to second place in 2021. This was done through significant improvements related to governance, citizenship, and workplace concerns. The figure below shows the industries with the best reputation scores.
Source: 2021 Global RepTrak® 100
What is driving the company’s reputation in 2021?
The report mentioned seven areas that can help companies enhance their reputation: products, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership, and performance. The report suggests the three most important areas each industry needs to focus on , as shown in the following figure.
Companies need to play a leadership role in society and communicate their response to global and local challenges to all stakeholders. All companies scored high in areas like products, innovation, governance, citizenship, and performance, but lacked progress in the areas of Citizenship and Workplace.
All companies – including the top 100 – must strengthen their reputation by focusing on improving their citizenship and workplace. Citizenship is critical to a company’s reputation, as the public sees companies launching many initiatives but seeing few actions and results. While there is still a lot of work ahead for companies in caring for their employees’ health and well-being. Employer actions are necessary to maintain the flexibility of the workforce.
Companies need to pay attention to ESG
ESG, according to the report, is the single most important determining factor that builds public trust. ESG is transforming to an urgent need for all companies looking to improve their operation, performance and consequently their reputation; companies need to set ESG as a priority in their business strategy and as part of their risk mitigation plan.
The report further reveals that companies have made progress in disclosing environmental impact and governance standards, while social factors have not received the same attention. As stakeholder expectations change and evolve, companies need to monitor their impacts under each individual ESG area. Furthermore, they need to communicate their ESG performance to stakeholders in a clear, concise and consistent manner, as part of a robust plans for ESG reporting and communications
The Global RepTrak® 100 is the definitive ranking of corporate reputation for the world’s leading companies. It showcases how people feel, think, and act towards companies globally. For over a decade, The RepTrak Company™ has ranked the top 100 most reputable companies to celebrate global reputation leaders.
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