EDISON, NJ — Corporate Responsibility magazine today released its 12th annual "100 Best Corporate Citizens" list, marking the first such list to hit the wires in 2011. Although this year's effort brought just small changes to CR's methodology, there were significant jumps in the rankings.
Johnson Controls leapt from 22nd place last year (just behind Walmart) to first place, and Campbell Soup Company moved up from 12th place last year to land in second. IBM moved up just one notch from fourth to third.
Of course, any list of rankings, especially one as potentially squishy as overall corporate sustainability, is liable to draw criticism, and that was certainly true of last year's CR rankings. At the time, GreenBiz.com's senior writer, Marc Gunther, asked tough questions about the names on the list. After noting that Google, Timberland and GE didn't make the cut despite their significant efforts, Gunther wrote:
Oil companies Hess Corp. (No. 10 on the list) , ExxonMobil (No. 51, which for years sought to delay action to deal with climate change, says Greenpeace), Occidental Petroleum (No. 26, accused of contaminating the Amazon) and Chevron (No. 56, targeted in a landmark class action suit for creating en environmental catastrophe in Ecuador).
The Southern Co. (No. 71), a coal-burning utility which led the fight against the administration's climate change bill.
And the Newmont Mining Corp (No. 16)., whose gold mines in Nevada have been major sources of mercury pollution.
One last example. Whole Foods Market, which has done more to promote organic agriculture than any company in America, doesn't make the list but Yum! Brands (No. 62) does. Yum!'s contributions to corporate responsibility include KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.
This year's list features some notable absences. Exxon Mobil, which ranked 51st last year, was booted from the list entirely with a "red card" for, as the CR editors explain, "contaminating groundwater in New York City."
Also absent this year are Allergan (another red card, this time for misbranding Botox), Yum Brands, and genetically modified food giant Monsanto. Newmont Mining moved down to 44th place, although Southern Company improved its position significantly, from 71 last year to 41 this year.
A number of companies got yellow cards as well, which indicate warnings that are being investigated by "a recognized authority." Yellow cards can lead to red cards and expulsion from the list. This year's yellow cards went to 3M, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, JP Morgan Chase and Occidental Petroleum.
The top 50 companies on CR Magazine's list are on the next page; the full rankings, as well as detailed scores, are online at TheCRO.com.