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Goldman Glows, Citi Sleeps: Fortune Ranks Most Admired Companies

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Seems like Citigroup has its work cut out for itself. Whether it be reputation, innovation (No. 5), people management (No. 6), management quality (No. 1), financial soundness (No. 7), or long-term investment (No. 5), the Citi that never sleeps managed to be in the Top 10 “least admired” in six of the nine sub-categories of Fortune’s latest ranking: World’s Most Admired Companies.

But let’s not make this about Citi–although I couldn’t resist sharing the video below about their famous mantra!

Moving on, there are many companies on the ranking that have done well and because this ranking is based mostly on the perception of the brand, the list is telling of how much good really translates into the perceived notion of doing good. For example, take a look at the companies that comprise the Top 5: Apple, Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson, and Amazon–all with positive reputations, strong market shares and relative lack of controversy in the media. They all have also almost always emphasized publicly on rewarding innovation and their brands have garnered trust from consumers like few others have.

Besides the overall ranking, it is the sub-categories that make it interesting. In the “social responsibility” category, UPS takes the winning spot, followed by Starbucks, Marriott, Walt Disney (Read what CEO Robert Iger had to say on Disney’s sustainable initiatives at the ECO:nomics Conference last week, where he said employees as well as potential employees are demanding responsible companies like never before) and Statoil in the Top 5. No shockers there but telling that companies which are more well-regarded for their SR component are missing: Seventh Generation, PepsiCo, etc. And there is a simple explanation for this: The ranking is based on the perception of SR by business executives, and could (is?) be way off from their actual responsibility quotient. Compare these names to last year’s winners and my argument becomes obvious: Anheuser-Busch was No. 1, followed by Marriott, Integrys, Walt Disney and Herman Miller.

Wall Street BonusesAnother interesting category is “people management.” Goldman Sachs, that has been the subject of much abuse from the media and consumers for its bonuses and risky investments, surprisingly, took the top spot here. Take a look at this excerpt from our 2009 Banking survey: “Teamwork, consensus building, corporate citizenship and meritocracy” are Goldman’s buzzwords, and insiders boast that “it’s a culture of integrity and character, where people genuinely value the perception of the firm.” With employees so enamored with the bank’s people management, maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise that outsiders feel the same golden glow from the mega bank as well? The list’s Top 5 get rounded off by Apple, Nike, UPS and Polo Ralph Lauren. And ironically, the worst possible year for investment banks saw Goldman retain its No. 1 spot in this category from 2009, while the other top four all changed hands. Perception problems or genuine regard?

Did your company make this reputational ranking? Do you agree with the ranking? Who would you have preferred to see as No. 1 for some of the categories? Leave a comment here, write to In Good Company or follow us on Twitter @VaultCSR! Also, visit In Good Company for more coverage on sustainability, diversity and CSR and how they relate to your career and workplace.

For the complete ranking, visit Fortune. Compare these with Vault’s Annual Rankings of the Top Banking and Accounting Employers, which provide in-depth reviews, buzz and insights into work culture, business outlook and diversity initiatives.

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