The “18 Most Hated Companies in America” and Their Philanthropy

October 13, 2011; Source: Business InsiderThe corporate social responsibility sites might rank some corporations high, but consumers often rank them low or lower, notwithstanding their philanthropic largesse.  Here is a list of the 18 “most hated” U.S. corporations and how some of them stack up on corporate social responsibility lists, and you’ll see that the companies with low CSR rankings (discernable because they don’t even make the lists of the top 50 or top 100) correlate pretty strongly with corporations ranked as “hated” by Business Insider. 

The 18 most hated corporations according to Business Insider are well known, some household teeth-gnashing names that are also pretty huge companies, big enough for slots on the Fortune 500

 

Rank among “18 Most Hated Companies in America”

Rank in Fortune 500 (2011)

Pepco

1

335

Delta

2

88

Time Warner Cable

3

95

Comcast

4

66

Charter Communications

5

333

US Airways

6

208

United Airlines

7

114

American Airlines

8

118

Facebook

9

 

UnitedHealth

10

22

Long Island Power Authority

11

 

LA Department of Water & Power

12

 

AT&T Mobility

13

12

JP Morgan Chase

14

13

Pacific Gas and Electric

15

177

Cox Communications

16

 

Dish Network

17

193

Bank of America

18

9

No surprise, but the “most hated” companies don’t make the lists of rankings of socially responsible corporations nor show a lot of philanthropic intent:

These are generally behemoth corporations that have plenty of financial wherewithal to be philanthropic.  A little philanthropy won’t kill them.  For the most part, the 18“most hated”—hated, that is, generally by consumers and the communities they serve—don’t rank high in overall corporate social responsibility or in philanthropic grantmaking through corporate foundations. 

It would seem—by correlation, not causation—that socially responsible companies seem to be philanthropically minded.  Certainly, as we showed with AT&T, some measure of corporate philanthropy, even through corporate foundations, comes with an implicit and occasionally explicit expectation of nonprofit grant recipient support. 

Nonetheless, corporations that tend to be philanthropic don’t end up much on the most hated companies list.  The practice of philanthropy, no matter how corporate-strategic, does have a beneficial side effect of making corporations more socially responsible, more responsive to their customers, and generally less likely to top “most hated” lists. 

Now, when did Comcast say the repairman was coming by—for the nth time—to fix my cable TV?—Rick Cohen