Corporation “Black List” Revealed

Since the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are like people, it seems only right that we create lists of best and worst corporate citizens, just as we have Nobel Prize winners and America’s Most Wanted.Fifty-eight companies made Corporate Responsibiility magazine’s 2011 Corporate Citizen Black List, which measures the amount of data, good or bad, that corporations deign to communicate to the public.

Of the 58 companies on the Black List, 32 were in the financial sectors; several others were from Energy, Consumer items, and Healthcare, among others. Companies on the black list include well-known names like Dreamworks, NASDAQ, and Madison Square Gardens, and lesser known but worrisome entries such as National Fuel Gas Company, Forest Oil Corp., BancorpSouth, Bio-Rad Laboratories, and investment manager Lazard Ltd.See the complete listhere.

Researchers for the Black List gathered information on large public companies via company websites and other public sources; this was not an “opt in” exercise. One thousand companies (comprising the Russell 1000 index) were evaluated for their public disclosure of information in seven categories:

  • Climate change;
  • Employee relations;
  • Environment;
  • Financial;
  • Governance;
  • Human rights; and
  • Philanthropy.

What makes a “good” corporation?Corporate Responsibiility magazine claims you have to start with transparency, that is, with letting your stakeholders (including the public) know how you operate in terms of financial, social and environmental factors, whether or not you’re always doing the right thing.The compiler of the list lists some examples of the questions on the survey:

“Does the company allow directors to serve on more than four boards? Does it reveal the results of energy conservation programs? Does it offer flexible spending accounts via its healthcare plan? Even if the answer is no to these and many other questions, any company can avoid the ‘Black List’ simply by answering one of the questions.”

These 58 are the least transparent, disclosing exactly zero information on 324 different measurements compiled by CR Magazine. It should be noted that just because a company does not disclose information doesn’t mean it is remiss in its operations. But not revealing anything is an appalling dismissal of the company’s place in society. In capitalism’s early days, corporations were established by the granting of charters, with the proviso that they operate in the public good. We’ve come a long way, baby.

On the upside, the magazine also compiled the 2011 100 Best Corporate Citizens list, whose top five are Johnson Controls, Campbell Soup Co., IBM, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Mattel.

Take action

We cannot change what we cannot see, so transparency is key. There is a long way to go, but each of us has tools to influence corporate behavior for the better.Through shareholder resolutions demanding ethical behavior; consumer campaigns, including boycotts and “buycotts;” and the tools of social media, individuals are able to express their displeasure with corporations that misbehave. Let’s hope, and work, so that the coming years’ corporate black lists gets smaller and smaller.


Photo: 02-04-09 blackred via iStockphoto


Sophi Z.
Sophia Z6 years ago

I cancelled my sub to the Wall Street Journal and I've cut up my Walmart card. I also write to my legislators frequently regarding corporations who are polluting or not paying their taxes.

Vlasta Molak
Vlasta M6 years ago

The only way to stop corporate take over of our societies is to run them out of business by becoming self-sufficient and independent of the services and stuff that they peddle to us. I have gone off the grid 2 years ago because I did not like their deceptive billing, and thus have ZERO utility bills without affecting my quality of life. Soon I will complete my transition by getting an electric battery car (most likely in China which goes 250 miles on one charge and recharges in 1-2 hours. The corporations in US are peddling inferior cars that go only 40 miles/charge (Volt) and 100 miles/charge (Leaf).

Only when our needs are satisfied locally by small businesses that operate locally and are interested in food life of the community, we will be free from the yoke of the multinational corporations which are following their greed and destroying Earth and human communities on it.

Nora J.
Nora J6 years ago

I think the present situation with the Murdochs should be a clarion call to all consumers. Don't buy from big corporations and try to support your local producers!!

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

I do not trust large companies.
They remove them self from being connected to their customers.
I get better results from talking to a company owner then I do, through the multiple layers of big business, while trying to fix a problem.

Wendy Wayt
Wendy Wayt6 years ago

This list seems meaningless. If you look at Corporate Responsibility mag's list of responsible corporations, you will find Monsanto, among other polluters and cheaters-of-people. That magazine is probably owned by some conglomerate of big corporations.

Bernadette P.
Berny p6 years ago

Forgot IBM???????????????????????????????????

Robert F.

What exactly is business? What is its function within society? Business should be a function of the community, not a separate destructive entity that feeds off the community, seeing people as nothing more than consumers. The original reason for business was the filling of gaps in a communities functioning that allowed for a better life for everyone. Someone had a much better ability to create shoes. Others had other skills. The shoemaker set up shop to fill this need with her enhanced skills, allowing others to hunt or farm without the discomfort of poorly made footwear. Hunter, farmer and shoemaker all prospered, enhancing the social and financial health of the community.

Today, corporations see themselves as entities separate from community, above us because of their economic worth, and this includes the national community. They have become cancerous growths on the communal body, leaching the life out of us for greater profits that never profit the community.

Pinke A.
Pinke A6 years ago

Awareness is growing among the yes it matters!

Cyn S.
Cynthia Scionti6 years ago

Yes, they should be transparent as many companies do illegal things. This way, maybe they could be stopped before it gets too far.

paula b.
paula barrett6 years ago

I have read some very good viewpoints above!!