Top corporate citizens named

American consumers tapped Ben & Jerry’s as the leading corporate citizen, followed by Target, Patagonia and SC Johnson, a new report says.

The GolinHarris Corporate Citizenship Index, which asked 5,000 people to evaluate 152 brands, rates companies as excellent, good, fair/average or poor in how they fare as corporate citizens.

Overall, the index was slightly higher this year than last, but only Ben & Jerry’s received the top distinction of excellent.

Two in three consumers believe responsible citizenship is good for the bottom line, and a similar number believe businesses should invest more time and money to improve their standing, the study says.

Consumers say the top drivers of good corporate citizenship are fair treatment of employees, ethical and open business practices, authenticity and going beyond requirements to ensure safety and reliability of products and services.

For companies with good corporate citizenship practices, consumers say they are more likely to recommend the company to friends and family, try the company’s products or switch to the company from a competitor if all other factors are equal.

A company’s ability to communicate its efforts is critical, say respondents, who typically learn of a company’s reputation through friends, personal connections to a cause or newspapers and the Internet.

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