Microsoft has the best corporate reputation in America, according to a survey by Harris Interactive and The Wall Street Journal.
The Redmond company beat Johnson & Johnson, leaping up six places to grab the top spot. The consumer-products and pharmaceuticals company had held the top spot for seven straight years.
An article in today's Journal (subscription required) reporting the survey results, credited Microsoft's consistent financial performance and industry leadership, but also gave a big nod to the way Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman, is spending his profits.
"The involvement of Bill Gates and his wife in their charitable foundation has had a definite impact on Microsoft's reputation," Enriqueta Lopez Ramos, a survey respondent and retired university professor in San Benito, Texas, says in the article. "It's hard to separate Bill Gates's image from that of Microsoft; to me, they're one and the same."
Microsoft rose to the top of a fairly dismal stack. The article reported that in general Americans find their corporations repugnant: "About 69% of respondents graded corporate America's reputation as either 'not good' or 'terrible,' just slightly lower than the 71% in 2005."
Here's how the rankings were calculated:
To compile the ranking, Harris Interactive conducted the Reputation Quotient survey in two phases. For the first part, 7,886 respondents were contacted online or by telephone last summer and asked to name the two companies they believe have the best reputations and the two with the worst. The 60 companies mentioned most often were then rated online last fall by a second group of 22,480 Americans, and each company was assigned a score and ranking based on those evaluations. The companies were rated on 20 attributes in six categories: financial performance, social responsibility, workplace environment, quality of products and services, vision and leadership, and emotional appeal.
How did other local and/or technology company's fare?
Google, No. 4
Sony, No. 8
Amazon.com, No. 11 (it didn't make the list last year)
Intel, No. 16
Apple, No. 22
Dell, No. 23
IBM, No. 26
Boeing, No. 27
Starbucks, No. 28
Hewlett-Packard, No. 38
And guess who was at the bottom, with the worst reputation in corporate America: Halliburton.