Consumer perception of big companies can tend towards the negative when the ginormous salaries of their CEOs are subject to public scrutiny. Middle Americans are rightfully stunned to learn of the compensation packages afforded top executives, even as the economic recovery drags.
Big companies, after all, depend on consumers buying their brands, so maybe that's one reason they are eager to put a shine on their collective and individual images. Along comes a new initiative called "The Civic 100" to help them do just that.
Sponsored by the National Conference on Citizenship and Points of Light, with Bloomberg News as its media partner, The Civic 100 is a national initiative to survey, rank, and recognize corporations on how they engage the communities they serve and institutionalize these practices as part of their corporate culture. It aims to implement a scientific approach to measuring and evaluating corporate civic engagement, corporate citizenship and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) efforts.
A strong motivation for corporations to tout their strength in CSR is the fact that consumers are well aware of its value. Recently, a CSR Perception Survey, conducted by Penn Schoen & Berland, found that 75 percent of consumers find corporate social responsibility important; in fact, they say they are more likely to purchase products or services from a company after reading its responsibility agenda. What's more 72 percent of survey respondents said they would sacrifice spending or salary to support CSR initiatives, and 40 percent were willing to take a pay cut to work at a socially responsible company.
In an effort to give The Civic 100 even more punch, an unusual collection of five former CEOs have urged S&P 500 corporation CEOs to participate in The Civic 100 survey by the end of July, as well as evaluate how their companies are leveraging their time, talent, and resources to build strong communities. The former CEOs who signed a letter to current corporate CEOs are Steve Case (ex-AOL), Ray Chambers (former Wesray Capital Corporation Chairman), Michael Eskew (former UPS CEO), Bob Nardelli (former Chrysler and Home Depot CEO), and John Pepper (former Procter & Gamble CEO).
In part, the letter reads: "We hold steadfast to the notion that the private sector, wants to and can contribute more to solutions that address community challenges. America's challenges require much more from corporations than attending charity galas and supporting golf tournaments. Real change comes from companies devoting their time, collective talent and resources to developing long-term, sustainable action plans to improve their local communities nationwide."
The inaugural list of "Civic 100" companies will be announced in November.