Wegmans is the best perceived company in the US for social responsibility, reveals The Harris Poll after asking more than 23,000 consumers to rate the 100 most visible companies on attributes including support for good causes, environmental responsibility and company responsibility. Millennials have other ideas, though.
Younger respondents rated Tesla Motors as tops for corporate social responsibility (CSR), whereas Wegmans came in 6th on their list. While some companies were on the top 10 list for both Millennials and Baby Boomers, several were unique to each. Along with Tesla, Whole Foods Markets, State Farm Insurance and Berkshire Hathaway were among the companies figuring into Millennials’ top 10 but absent from Baby Boomers’ list.
Atop Baby Boomers’ list was Wegmans, followed by Genereal Mills and Southwest Airlines, the latter two not within Millennials’ top 10.
Wells Fargo – ranked second-last of the 100 companies, ahead of only Monsanto – saw the biggest year-over-year drop in CSR rating. The bank’s fake accounts scandal led to it plummeting 19 points to a “critical” score.
Generational Gaps in the Approach to CSR
Not only do Millennials and Baby Boomers have different CSR favorites, but so do their attitudes to CSR diverge in some respects.
For example, Millennials were considerably more likely than Baby Boomers to say that they proactively try to influence family and friends’ perceptions about a company because of something they learned about how the company conducts itself (41% and 25%, respectively).
Youths’ apparent greater sensitivity towards CSR issues has been seen in various other pieces of research, such as this one.
Interestingly, Baby Boomers are more apt to welcome greater expansion of established companies in their communities, whereas Millennials would be more welcoming of technology companies expanding into their communities.
The Most Important CSR Issues Are…
When thinking about CSR, American adults value employee treatment and ethics as their most important, per the report. Those are interesting results: previous research has found that while treating employees well is the top driver of brand trust, it doesn’t have much of an impact on corporate reputation.
Ethical business practices, though, are important for reputation and trust, per the above-linked reports.
Meanwhile, beyond employee treatment and ethics, consumers value respectful treatment of customers as the next-most important CSR issue, with affordable and accessible products and services and safety a little less important.