Apple and Samsung plummet down social responsibility table, meanwhile Lego dethrones Google at the top

The Samsung Note 7 catches fire under experiment conditions / JerryRigEverything

The world’s largest smartphone producers, Apple and Samsung, have suffered a steep decline in the public’s perception of their corporate social responsibility efforts, according to research from RepTrak.

A study of the world’s 100 most reputable companies in terms of CSR performance, compiled from more than 170,000 ratings across the world’s 15 largest economies, found that Lego, at least in the public’s eyes, best covered the following criteria: “Support of good causes, positive societal influence and environmental responsibility, openness and transparency, ethical behaviour and fair business practices, and fair employee rewards, employee wellbeing and equal opportunities."

The Danish toy and media company dethroned Google from a three-year spell at the top of the list. Google slipped into third behind rival Microsoft. Disney, BMW, Intel, Robert Bosch, Cisco, Rolls Royce and Colgate-Palmolive followed.

The top ten was comprised with four tech companies, notably companies from the sector dominated the list and typically scored highest, followed with entries from hospitality and pharmaceutical industries.

Volkswagen endured the steepest decline placing it just on the list in 100th place, although its emissions scandal has hardly dented its income, the brand has suffered a blow.

Apple dropped to 49th; on this James Bickford, managing director at the Reputation Institute, said: “Apple experienced backlash in 2016 when it was discovered that conditions within iPhone factories were so poor that they installed safety nets to prevent workers from killing themselves. This lead to a mass protest which gained widespread media attention, creating a negative perception of Apple’s workplace environment.”

He speculated that the upcoming launch of the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus will impact the wider perception of the company. It comes during a period where Apple is now only the third largest smartphone producer in the world, slipping behind Chinese firm Huawei. Samsung, the most powerful player in this space also suffered a decline to 89th place. On this Bickford said: “In Samsung’s case, the reason for the decline could be attributed to the Galaxy Note crisis of 2016, the overheating batteries caused harm to customers and ultimately lead to Samsung having a negative societal influence.”

The research also unveiled that good CSR drives business results, Bickford concluded: “For an organisation, having a strong CSR agenda is important, because it ensures customers will do business with you, policymakers and regulators will give you license to operate, and potential employees will be more willing to work for you. CSR is increasingly a top driver of stakeholder support. It equates to good will and good business.”

John McCarthy

John is an entertainment marketing reporter at The Drum. He writes about the amazing marketing stories coming from the movie, TV, music and video game industries. He's also the hunt for the weirder trends in marketing and advertising.

Fuelled by tea.

All by John