The Black List: The 30 Least Transparent Companies.


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Corporate Responsibility Magazine released its First-Ever Black List – the 30 least-transparent companies in Russell 1000 Corporate Index – on April 14, 2010. This list is based on the same data CRO uses to create its “100 Best Corporate Citizens” list from the Russell 1000 index of large-cap stocks. Featuring some of America’s best-known brands, the list is based on over 360 data points of publicly-available information in seven categories:

  • Environment
  • Climate Change
  • Human Rights
  • Philanthropy
  • Employee Relations
  • Financial Performance
  • Governance

A few of the companies listed include some well-known favorites:

  • Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
  • Scripps Networks Interactive Inc – Home of HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel
  • Weight Watchers International Inc.
  • Bancorpsouth Inc.

In publishing the “Black List,” we do not take our responsibility lightly. Companies on the “Black List” represent the least-transparent companies in the Russell 1000, which is a tough place to be in the era of corporate responsibility and its ever-intensifying drive for transparency. We expect the companies on the “Black List” will be unhappy with us. We offer them one piece of solace. All a “Black List” company has to do is make a few CR-related data points about itself publicly available. Report a couple data points to the Carbon Disclosure Project. Put your employee benefits policies online. Publish some human rights information. Get a formal climate change policy, and put it online. Some of the actions required are the public company hygiene equivalent of washing your hands after visiting the rest room. Yet all the “Black List” companies have made the decision to skip that basic step.

While being a “100 Best Corporate Citizens List” company is a major accomplishment requiring considerable commitment and cost, indulging in just enough transparency to get your company out of the cellar is not that hard, nor that expensive. And one thing’s for certain: it’s less embarrassing than being on the “Black List.”

I would certainly say so. Want to read about the rest of the companies on the list? You can download a PDF of the report by clicking here.

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  1. It seems like it would be helpful to give a list of brands and companies owned by these, as I only recognized a few of them. Does the Corporate Responsibility Magazine do this?

  2. With so much concern about producing eco- or sustainable products, it seems natural to expand on that concept by stating what your firm is doing otherwise in that direction. Simply good PR.

    On the PR front, being open about employee relations also seems a wise move. With so many people hit by the economy, companies have been marketing this aspect of work life to help staff morale and public perception. I wonder what the executives reason as to why they do not wish to be more open on this front.

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