Estee Lauder Named to Newsweek’s Most Responsible Companies in America List

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January 22, 2024 (press release) –

For the fifth year in a row, Newsweek has partnered with global research and data firm Statista for our annual list of America's Most Responsible Companies. While the inception of today's corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives may only be a few decades old, the concept of the social contract goes back centuries. Corporate responsibility encompasses environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG). However, at the core is the idea that businesses should support the communities in which they belong. But after a year when anti-woke campaigners were seemingly louder than ever, are companies doing anything different?

"The survey results suggest that companies have been making improvements in certain areas over the last three years, with social responsibility scores notably on the rise," Michael Bausch, senior analyst at Statista, tells Newsweek. "This positive trend indicates a commitment to enhancing corporate practices, particularly in response to societal expectations. The data reflects a gradual but encouraging evolution in companies' efforts to fulfill their responsibilities, highlighting a positive shift in their overall approach."

This year, we award 600 of the largest corporations in the United States, up from 500 in 2022. While that increase is noteworthy, even more so is the fact that the company in this year's 600th spot has a higher score than last year's 500th. It is also worth mentioning that 243 companies on the list have placed for at least four consecutive years, with 156 earning a spot for all five years.

"There is a discernible trend where an increasing number of companies are not only engaging in CSR practices but also actively publishing CSR reports. This noteworthy shift is exemplified by a near doubling of the count from 549 in 2019 to 1039 in 2022," Bausch says. "Moreover, among the companies that have embraced CSR reporting, there is a notable uptick in the number of key performance indicators (KPIs) being included, showcasing a continuous effort towards heightened transparency."

In addition to more reporting, one of the enhancements for KPI accuracy is the replacement of the categories "social projects" and "environmental projects" with two KPIs based on participation and recognition by the organizations Human Rights Campaign and CEO Action.

This year's top overall position is held by Merck, having an impressive score of 92 out of 100, with Xylem following closely at 91.3 and HP, which held the No. 1 position for the previous four years, maintaining a solid presence in third with a score of 90.3.

Three companies stand out for scoring 100 in one of the three ESG pillars: Dell, Entergy and Merck. The scoring is competitive among the ranks, and some companies experience significant yearly fluctuations in their ranking. Bausch explains: "A company scoring 100 in one of the three pillars (environmental, social, corporate governance) doesn't imply perfection in that particular area. Instead, it indicates superior performance compared to their peers."

So, what initiatives are companies focusing on as an effective strategy for enhancing specific KPIs? Bausch says, "It's crucial not to underestimate the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on various metrics, including emissions, energy and financial KPIs. A significant portion of rank changes can be attributed to these pandemic-related effects. Beyond these challenges, many companies are actively undertaking initiatives to enhance specific KPIs, such as reducing emissions, optimizing energy consumption, and promoting diversity by appointing more women and minorities to board positions."

When reviewing the data by sector, some clear leaders in social responsibility emerge. While the Energy and Utility industry is at the tail end for environmental scores, the sector has taken a lead in social scores in the past three years. Likewise, Technology Hardware comes in second for social responsibility while holding the top position in the overall rankings. The Health Care and Life Sciences industry is in third place.

The Capital Goods sector held the position of most awarded companies with a total of 75. Energy and Utilities is second with 59, and Technology Hardware is not far behind with 57. The industries with the fewest awarded companies are Automotive and Components and Hotel, Dining and Leisure—both tied at 19.

We are proud to present this year's ranking and honor these responsible corporate citizens.

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Jason Irving
Jason Irving
- SVP Enterprise Solutions -

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