Will “Black List” Damage Brand Image Of Companies?


Companies surely benefit from being noted in such lists as the “100 Best Corporate Citizens,” published by Corporate Responsibility magazine. But now, in a move that is sure to rankle some CEOs, the magazine for the first time is publishing “THE BLACK LIST: The Russell 1000’s Least Transparent Companies.” Dirk Olin, editor in chief of the magazine, tells The New York Times that he never thought “for a minute that we would uncover a full 30 corporations where no relevant data at all could be turned up.”

The list, which will be released on April 24, scores companies from the Russell 1000 index of large-capitalization stocks in such areas as financial, governance, and human rights. The Black List will include some eye-openers – well known companies like Abercrombie & Fitch, Lorillard, and Weight Watchers have earned the questionable distinction of making the list.[more]

Interestingly, the magazine claims that the best corporate citizens had a three-year return on shareholder value of 2.37, whereas the 30 black listed companies had a negative return of 7.38 percent – proving that it literally pays to be a good guy.

Which brings up an intriguing question: Will being on The Black List give any of the companies a black eye in terms of their brand image? Companies tout their appearance on positive lists and highlight accolades received for customer service or product quality. Quality awards given out by J.D. Power and Associates, for example, are often used in product promotion. So will companies on The Black List launch a PR effort to combat the negative effect on their brand image – or will they just shrug it off and ignore it?

The companies on The Black List may have already answered that question: According to Olin, none of them responded when the magazine contacted them for comment.