Companies around the world are increasingly focusing on their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a means of strengthening their reputations. A study conducted by the Reputation Institute, a consulting firm in New York, gives some indication as to why such a practice is important. The decisions one makes regarding a company such as whether to buy their product or recommend it to a friend is dependent more on the perception of the company than the perception of its products. As 42% of a company's reputation is based on its CSR practices, it is important companies consider what makes a good corporate citizen. To better understand this question, the Reputation Institute issued an online questionnaire asking consumers about the corporate citizenship of a variety of companies. For the purposes of this study, corporate citizenship was defined to include actions such as supporting good causes and protecting the environment. Consumers were also asked if each company was responsibly run and whether each seemed like an appealing place to work.
The top performing companies in the study included Disney, Google, and Microsoft. Some of their current strategies involve classic examples of corporate altruism like Microsoft's Employee Giving Campaign in which employees run fund-raising events for non-profit organizations. Other strategies take advantage of a company's unique resources like Google's support of clean water and anti-poverty campaigns. Google helps non-profits by running free ads and aiding in the collection of data, and therefore has a visible charitable impact. The findings of the Reputation Institute study indicate that the best corporate citizens are those that have messages that resonate with consumers in many regions and extend beyond marketing campaigns. In order to achieve this status, companies must demonstrate how they can use their resources to benefit both others and themselves.