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The Top 10 Bay Area CSR Reporters and Performers

Raz Godelnik
| Tuesday September 4th, 2012 | 0 Comments

Based in the Bay Area? Consider our upcoming training course in the Global Reporting Initiative – a leading international standard in CSR reporting. Class begins October 10th! 

It’s no secret that the Bay Area in California is a mecca for startups, entrepreneurs, high-tech companies and even food lovers. Still, one might wonder if it also means the Bay Area is a hub for CSR leaders – after all, it is one of the most progressive areas in the U.S in terms of politics, culture and technology, not to mention the fact that it’s the birthplace of TriplePundit.

We decided it’s time to check if San Francisco, Palo Alto, Oakland, San Jose and other cities around the Bay, which is the home of  30 Fortune 500 companies, including many well-known brands such as Apple, Google, Chevron, Cisco, Clorox and eBay, are also a stronghold of CSR reporters and performers.

Many of the Bay Area companies make headlines at TriplePundit quite often and most times, they are positive ones. Yet, when it comes to CSR reporting, the results are average at best, with only 14 Fortune 500 companies releasing CSR reports (47 percent), 13 of them in accordance with the GRI guidelines (43 percent). In terms of reporting, the results are almost similar to ones among S&P500 companies (48 percent, 2011 figures). The good news is that compliance with GRI guidelines is much higher (among S&P500 companies it’s only 21 percent). The bad news is that only one company (3 percent), Clorox, had its report audited by a third party – this is much lower than the average among S&P500 companies, which is about 10 percent. So the bottom line is that companies in the Bay Area report similarly to the national average, make more use of the GRI guidelines, but don’t have their reports audited by a third-party.

When it comes to CSR performance, the results look a little bit better with 10 of the Bay Area companies having been listed in Corporate Responsibility Magazine’s 2012 100 Best Corporate Citizens List. It means that 10 percent of the CSR leaders in the U.S. come from the Bay Area, which seems to be greater than the relative part of the Bay Area companies among the companies reviewed for the list.

So how do the companies in the Bay Area approach CSR reporting and performance? Here are the results:

Company Fortune 500 Rank City Revenue (in $ millions) CSR Report GRI Report GRI LevelCR Magazine 2012 Top 100
Agilent

456

Santa Clara

5,326

YesYesB
AMD

393

San Francisco

6,163

YesYesA
Apple

228

San Jose

11,658

Supplier responsibility progress reportno
Applied Materials

353

San Mateo

7,140

yesYesC

92

Charles Schwab

185

San Francisco

14,549

nono
Chevron

306

Foster City

8,385

YesYesno

40

Cisco

73

Mountain View

37,905

YesYesB

43

Clorox

10

Palo Alto

127,245

YesYesB+

97

Core-Mark Holding

51

Santa Clara

53,999

nono
eBay

14

San Francisco

112,084

nono
Franklin Resources

474

San Mateo

5,123

nono
Gap

82

Redwood City

35,622

yesGRI – referenceNA

13

Gilead Sciences

179

San Francisco

14,956

nono
Google

299

Pleasanton

8,608

nono
HP

63

Pleasanton

43,630

YesYesB

27

Intel

430

Milpitas

5,662

YesYesA

3

McKesson

376

San Jose

6,602

YesYesC
NetApp

391

Mountain View

6,190

nono
Oracle

253

Fremont

10,410

nono

76

PG&E

275

San Francisco

9,545

YesYesno

38

Ross Stores

281

San Francisco

9,188

nono
Safeway

26

San Francisco

87,597

nono
SanDisk

483

Sunnyvale

4,984

nono
Sanmina-SCI

456

Oakland

5,326

nono
Symantec

393

San Francisco

6,163

YesYesB

85

Synnex

228

San Jose

11,658

nono
URS

353

San Mateo

7,140

nono
Visa

185

San Francisco

14,549

nono
Wells Fargo

306

Foster City

8,385

YesYesC
Yahoo

73

Mountain View

37,905

nono

Combining the information on the companies’ CSR reporting and performance, the top 10 companies are: Intel, Gap, HP, PG&E, Cisco, Chevron, Oracle, Clorox, Symantec and Applied Materials. Here are five more titles we would like to give:

The best company: Intel. “At Intel, corporate responsibility is a crucial component to the overall growth of our business,” said Michael Jacobson, Intel’s director of corporate responsibility following Intel’s release of its 2012 CSR report. “From product to customer to employee to environment, corporate responsibility allows Intel to have a greater and more influential impact on industries, communities and the global economy,” he added. With approach like this and implementation that follows suit, it’s no wonder Intel is among the leaders, not just in the U.S., but also worldwide when it comes to CSR.

The company that surprised me: PG&E. I was surprised to see a utility on the list, but apparently I shouldn’t be, at least not when it comes to PG&E. The company proves to be one of the most progressive utilities, from quitting the Chamber of Commerce back in 2009, to starting a $100 million tax equity fund to finance residential solar systems to collaborating with IBM and Honda on Smart EV Charging.

The biggest disappointment: Yahoo. With their green data center, positive feedback from Greenpeace on their data centers’ energy use, and general openness to collaboration with stakeholders, one would assume Yahoo would be on the top of the list, or in the middle of it, but certainly not at the bottom, with no CSR reporting nor a place on the CR magazine list. Another disappointment I have to mention is Google, which I also expected to see at the top.

The most non-surprising company: Apple. If you follow our coverage of Apple and its CSR flawed strategy, you’re not really surprised not to see it at the top of the list or to find out that it doesn’t release a CSR report. It’s fair, though, to mention that at least Apple releases a supplier responsibility progress report, which is more than we can say about many other companies in the Bay.

The company it seems weird to find at the top: Chevron. Having an oil company on the top of a CSR list always looks like an oxymoron – after all, they’re producing oil, right? Not to mention its battle against the ruling against the company for dumping billions of gallons of toxic oil waste in the Ecuadorian Amazon, which is mentioned everywhere, except the company’s CSR report. Yet, we still have to commend Chevron for taking some positive steps in areas like community engagement and human rights. Chevron is far from being perfect, but it’s better than nothing or close to nothing, which is the record of many of its peers.

[Image credit: Lawrence’s Lenses, Flickr Creative Commons]

Raz Godelnik is the co-founder of Eco-Libris, a green company working to green up the book industry in the digital age. He is an adjunct faculty at the University of Delaware’s Business School, CUNY SPS and the New School, teaching courses in green business and new product development.


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