Canadians’ willingness to trust business has dropped significantly in the last year, but the most reputable companies are bucking the trend through social responsibility, according to the world’s largest and longest-running annual study on corporate reputation.
Despite heavy challenges facing its sector, tech giant Google held on to the top spot in the 2018 rankings of Canada’s Most Reputable Companies compiled by the Reputation Institute (RI). The top Canadian company in the survey (fifth overall) is retail brand MEC, followed closely by drugstore chain Jean Coutu, which gained eight spots – going from sixteenth last year to eighth overall in 2018. Nine Canadian companies cracked the Top 50, including Canadian Tire (14th), Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix (20th), Home Hardware (21st), Cascades (31st), Cineplex (33rd), Roots (39th), and Sleep Country Canada (44th).
“While Canadians’ trust in companies has dropped nine points in the past year, the most reputable companies of 2018 are those that balance performance with purpose, conquering our hearts and minds by living up to their brand promise,” said Bradley Hecht, Senior Managing Director, Americas, at the Reputation Institute.
The survey, based on 27,000 individual ratings from Canadians, is unique not just in its size but also its relevance, as it only includes rankings from people familiar with the companies they are rating. The Reputation Institute’s proprietary RepTrak® model asks respondents to score companies on seven key reputation dimensions: products and services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and (financial) performance.
Here are the top 10 companies in the 2018 Canada RepTrak® survey:
- Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC)
- Jean Coutu
- Walt Disney Company
More than 250 companies were tracked in the survey, conducted in January and February of 2018.
Roots rises, Tim Hortons drops
In a year marked by high volatility in the public’s perception of corporations, two Canadian retailers – Roots (+5.0 points) and Canadian Tire (+4.5 points) – saw their reputation scores soar on the strength of their corporate social responsibility. Both earned strong ratings for their citizenship and governance, the latter category defined as the perception that a company is open, honest and transparent in its stakeholder and public relationships.
The picture isn’t quite as rosy for two other Canadian brands that saw their reputations decline severely in 2018. While still considered in the “strong” range in terms of their reputation, both Tim Hortons (-5.7 points) and Agropur (-4.5 points) were among the fastest fallers in the survey, with the coffee giant going from 13th to 67th overall in this year’s rankings.
“Authenticity really matters to Canadians, and we judge companies harshly when we don’t believe they live up to their stated values,” said Daniel Tisch, President and CEO of Argyle Public Relationships, a leading Canadian expert in reputation management. “The most reputable Canadian companies are almost nine points higher than their peers in perceptions of their corporate social responsibility – and it’s not surprising that they are widely perceived to be more genuine.”
With a direct correlation between corporate reputation and business performance, companies have an opportunity – with the use of reputation measurement tools – to understand the key opportunities and gaps, and have processes in place to manage reputation.