General Mills, Whole Foods Among Best Corporate Citizens

Apr 01, 2003

By George Anderson

General Mills heads the list of its 100 Best Corporate Citizens for 2003 as ranked by Business Ethics magazine. The list includes a number of prominent CPG manufacturers and retailers including Procter & Gamble, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Wild Oats, Horizon Organic, Starbucks, A&P, Staples, Supervalu, Clorox, and Gillette.

In a press release, Business Ethics editors write, “Given the quantity of recent scandals, we expect our level of complaints about the list may rise. Nonetheless we forge ahead, certain that none of these companies are immune from problems, but equally certain that — as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once put it — ‘Sunlight is the best disinfectant.’ We publish these rankings in the hope of shedding light on good corporate practices: searching not for perfect firms, but for those with practices superior to their peers.”

Companies are rated “according to service to seven stakeholder groups: stockholders, the community; minorities and women; employees; the environment; non-US stakeholders; and customers.”

General Mills earned its top spot by excelling in service to the community and to women and minorities.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters made the grade for its decision to buy coffee beans at Fair Trade prices.

Wild Oats Markets made the list with its pledge to “stock 80 percent of its produce with organic products” and to include employees working as little as 25 hours per week in its profit sharing plan.

Here are some of the companies on the Business Ethics’ 100 Best Corporate Citizens list. (The complete list can be found at

1. General Mills
4. Procter & Gamble
5. IBM
6. Hewlett-Packard
8. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
19. Wild Oats Markets
21. Starbucks
22. Eastman Kodak
23. J. M. Smucker
31. Horizon Organic Holding
44. Pep Boys
48. Scholastic
55. Adolph Coors
56. Merck
60. Timberland
63. Whole Foods Market
65. 3M
69. Clorox
78. Dell Computer
84. Great A & P Tea
87. Staples
88. Supervalu
90. Becton Dickinson
95. Hasbro
97. Whirlpool
99. Gillette 

Moderator’s Comment: What criteria would you use for
developing your own personal Best Corporate Citizens list? What companies would
you place on your personal Best Corporate Citizens list?

Our personal stakeholder list in order of importance:

  1. Employees

    Rule #1: Take care of your own and they’ll take care of you and your…

  2. Customers

    Rule #2: Treat your customers how you would like to be treated.

  3. Stockholders and Upper Management

    Rule #3: Special rules do not apply. Stockholders and upper management deserve
    equal treatment to others involved in achieving company objectives. Caveat:
    A company should never create a plan for Wall Street. All plans are meant
    for Main Street.

  4. Vendors

    Rule #4: Treat your vendors as you would have your customers treat you.

  5. Everything Else

    Rule #5: If you do numbers one through four you will take care of the community,
    the environment, minorities, women, etc. [George
    Anderson – Moderator

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