Rating Corporate Social Responsibility

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), or corporate sustainability, is the belief that companies have an obligation to contribute to the long-term public good.  Measuring CSR involves expanding the measures of corporate success to include economic, ecological, and social measures (known as the triple bottom line), and not just financial success.  Though there have been critics of the usefulness of CSR (see Milton Friedman’s The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits), the general belief that companies have such responsibilities has led to a proliferation of rankings and ratings on the CSR performance of companies.

Start your search for CSR corporate rankings with the 2010 Corporate Social Responsibility Index, an index developed by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and the Reputation Institute.  The index ranks the top 50 companies in the United States that the public distinguishes for their corporate social responsibility.   From here take a look at Fortune Magazine’s ranking of the Best & Worst in Social Responsibility, a feature of their special annual issue on the World’s Most Admired CompaniesCorporate Responsibility Magazine also does a list and has published their 2011 100 Best Corporate Citizens list.  Last, but not least, Forbes Magazine does a ranking of the America’s Most Generous Companies, a list they reproduce from the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual survey results.

To find a particular company’s CSR or sustainability statement, look for a specific link on their website or look at what they have to say about CSR in their annual report.  For example, Johnson & Johnson, a know leader in CSR, has a link on their website titled Our Caring that discusses their corporate role in giving and sustainability.  Pfizer, another CSR leader, has a simple Responsibility link that takes readers to information on their community programs, contributions and environmental policies.

Ask a reference librarian for help locating more information on the topic of corporate social responsibility or to find a particular company’s CSR statement.

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