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Module 3 – Case Questions
What is the CSR Rep Trak? What is its purpose?
Why did the Reputation Institute omit the word “social” from its corporate responsibility
Explain how (in what ways) Lego is producing products that combine its sense of purpose and
sense of corporate responsibility.
Explain what Stephen Hans-Griffiths means by “Creating a company that is viewed as having
high corporate responsibility begins from the inside out.”
Why do you think transparency is important to corporate social responsibility?
The World’s Most Reputable Companies
For Corporate Responsibility 2018
Vicky Valet Forbes Staff
October 11, 2018
The past year has seen much of the global business community doing damage control, and tech
titans—untouchable as they may seem—have not been immune to the reputation crisis. While
Apple and Facebook, still reeling in the wake of a string of scandals, have seen their brands
tarnished, Google appears to have stayed above the fray.
“Google is still viewed as an employer of choice. It’s an aspirational, ‘do no evil’ kind of
company,” says Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief reputation officer of the Reputation Institute, a
reputation measurement and management services firm. Since 2011, the institute has
published the CSR RepTrak, an annual study of companies with the best corporate social
responsibility reputations in the world. This year’s ranking not only revealed an average 1.4point decline in the reputation of companies but an evolution of the notion of corporate social
“We’re redefining what we’ve previously called corporate social responsibility,” says HahnGriffiths. By highlighting the “social” piece of the equation, he says, companies overlook other
equally important elements that are at play: employer, environmental and fiscal responsibility.
And, so, the institute decided to omit the word “social” from its corporate responsibility
language and renamed the ranking the CR RepTrak. “Corporate responsibility is quadrilateral
between social, fiscal, employer and environmental responsibility. That is the new rubric for
To determine the CR RepTrak, the institute surveyed more than 230,000 individuals in Australia,
Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain,
the United Kingdom and the United States during the period from January to February 2018.
The 140 companies considered were those that are familiar to at least 30% of the general
population of the countries surveyed.
In light of this new definition of corporate responsibility, how did Google, just 15 months
removed from the release of the now-infamous James Damore anti-diversity memo, emerge
from controversy with its reputation not only unscathed but seemingly stronger than ever? Google
has Sundar Pichai to thank for its rise to the No. 1 spot, with a score of 71.9: “Sundar Pichai is a
strong CEO who is also viewed as responsible,” says Hahn-Griffiths. “There’s a humility and a
modesty in how he talks publicly.”
Pichai’s unwavering character was put to the test just after the contents of Damore’s
memo became publicly known. On a family vacation far from the Mountain View campus,
Pichai could have hidden behind Google’s public relations machine. But he returned from
vacation early, addressing the situation head-on by firing Damore and denouncing
discrimination in a companywide email. In doing so, Pichai demonstrated his commitment to
ensuring Google’s status as an equal opportunity employer, not to mention his genuine concern
for the well-being of his employees, a sentiment that’s core to the culture and perks for which
the organization is renowned.
“Google is celebrated based on its values, culture and commitment to creating a thriving
workplace,” says Hahn-Griffiths. “If you can’t treat people who work for your company well,
you can’t accomplish the goal of being good at corporate responsibility.” And yet, despite its
strong reputation, even Google must be wary of the looming hazards, such as those posed by
the recent Google Plus data breach. “Google should be wary of governance, especially related
to data, integrity and usage,” says Hahn-Griffiths. “It needs to be open, transparent and tread
When it comes to product transparency, no CR RepTrak company is doing better than
Lego. Coming in at No. 3 with a score of 69.4, the Danish toymaker has long been known for
creating the colorful building blocks of children’s play. More recently, though, the Lego name
has become synonymous with environmental sustainability. In March 2018, Lego announced
plans to produce pieces made from plant-based sources. Just four months later, the
organization followed through, releasing the first batch of sustainably sourced, sugarcanebased Lego bushes, leaves and trees. This is just one of the many steps Lego is looking to take
toward its goal of using sustainable materials in all core products and packaging in by 2030.
“Lego is a very solid corporate entity, a very purposeful company that drives learning through
play while respecting the environment,” says Hahn-Griffiths. “It’s literally putting its sense of
purpose and sense of corporate responsibility into its products.”
Another organization aligning product with purpose is Novo Nordisk, ranked No. 5, with
a score of 68.7. The Denmark-based business is the only pharmaceutical company to appear in
the top 30, perhaps a testament to the trust-based relationships it’s built with consumers at a
time when confidence in big pharma is at an all-time low. “The only way to build trust is to earn
trust,” says Hahn-Griffiths. “There’s a strong, deep understanding that Novo Nordisk is driving
change and saving lives.” Through innovative, patient-focused offerings like Ask Sophia—an AIpowered chatbot built to answer diabetes-related questions—and NovoPen 6 and NovoPen
Echo Plus—the company’s first commercially available, smart insulin pens—Novo Nordisk has
demonstrated its dedication to responsible, accessible healthcare.
While the name of the reputation game has changed, the key to becoming a business
known for corporate responsibility is exactly the same—a united workforce. “Creating a
company that is viewed as having high corporate responsibility begins from the inside out,”
says Hahn-Griffiths. “When you have internal alignment, the external story becomes much
more powerful.”

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