Financial Firms Tank as Berkshire Hathaway Takes All the Love

by Aman Singh Das | April 08, 2010

  • My Vault

I discussed behavioral placement yesterday, with NBC Universal attempting to make its viewers more eco-friendly, at the same time chasing ad sales from companies who are increasingly looking to collaborate only with shows that have a social-good message/element. But, how much does brand perception play into our choices not just as consumers but also as informed professionals? As we make conscious decisions to buy certain brands, do we also make our career choices based on how the company is perceived in the society?

In a new survey conducted by Harris Interactive, called the "Reputational Quotient", companies have been rated based on 20 attributes ranging from "value for money", "environmental responsibility" to "record of profitability." These 20 have then been further grouped under six headings of "emotional appeal," "products and services," "workplace environment," "financial performance," "vision and leadership" and "social responsibility."Any guesses on how similar these ratings look to Fortune'st ranking of "Most Admired Companies" released last month? (See my post: Goldman Glows, Citi Sleeps)

Financial bailout

Before we go any further, remember this. The Fortune rankings were based on responses from executives. Harris Interactive's survey was based on individualized common man respondents. Despite this huge difference, the top three choices are similar. Berkshire Hathaway takes the No. 1 spot in the Harris Interactive rankings; it was No. 3 on Fortune. Google and Intel round out the top-three for Harris, while on Fortune, Apple and Google complete the top three. The only anomaly: Intel. But the interesting components, as with the Fortune list, are the sub-categories. For example, in the "social responsibility" category, Johnson & Johnson is No. 1, while Fortune had UPS in the top spot.

Also, the Harris survey makes a point of differentiating what made the companies rank the way they did. Here's an excerpt from the study via Huffington Post:

"In last year's study we saw companies that provided value and a sense of comfort getting strong overall reputation ratings. This year, we see overall corporate governance, performance and leadership driving positive reputation perceptions. Finding two holding companies, Berkshire Hathaway and SC Johnson, in the top five, is a visible reflection of this difference in focus."

They are of course referring to the increasing focus on corporate social responsibility and the growing importance for companies to become visibly accountable for their social and communal giveback. This shift is apparent when you look at the other end of the list, or the "least admired" companies category as well. Freddie Mac takes the No. 1 with financial services companies forming a majority of the rest of Top 10 (Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, AIG and Fannie Mae). In the Fortune rankings, while Citigroup fared horribly, Goldman Sachs remained a candidate for admiration, especially for people management. Rising demand for accountability for sure but also a clear indication of how continue to differentiate between brand image as consumers and as professionals. Is this admiration society finally changing its admission criteria?

For the complete Harris Interactive ranking, visit Brandweek. For the complete Fortune ranking, visit CNNMoney.com.

Do you see this perception played out on your trip to the supermarket as well as your job search? Surprised it should even matter? Talk to us by leaving a comment or emailing In Good Company. We love to hear from you. Is their a basis of truth in these rankings and your career choices? And, of course, if you'd rather tweet, connect with me on Twitter @VaultCSR!

Filed Under: CSR

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