Special Report

Companies With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

> Reputation score:
> 2015 score: 55.23
> Industry: Insurance
> CEO: Peter Hancock

Like the majority of the highly visible U.S. financial institutions, AIG’s reputation took a severe hit during the financial crisis. Also like many of the country’s major finance companies, AIG’s image has recovered somewhat in recent years. Between the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Harris poll, no company had a larger increase in its reputation score than the insurance company, improving from the second worst reputation to the seventh worst. Still, the company has a long way to go before it sheds its poor reputation, and many Americans still likely remember the $182 billion bailout the company received from taxpayers during the crisis.

6. Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS)
> Reputation score:
> 2015 score: 55.07
> Industry: Financial services
> CEO: Lloyd Blankfein

The financial services industry has the lowest reputation of any industry, and Goldman Sachs has the lowest reputation of any financial services company. Since the 2008 financial crash sunk the public image of the finance industry as a whole, the very association with Goldman Sachs has been a political risk for presidential candidates.In recent years, Goldman has taken a few measures to improve its reputation. The company has made public its pledge to invest $150 billion in clean energy projects, its $500 million program to help small businesses, and its $600 million program aimed at supporting female entrepreneurs in developing countries. The bank has seen a significant improvement in its reputation since last year, when it was ranked as the very worst company on the Harris Poll. Nevertheless, the bank remains a poster child for a corrupt financial industry and one of the least reputable U.S. companies.

5. Monsanto (NYSE: MON)
> Reputation score:
> 2015 score: 59.18
> Industry: Agriculture
> CEO: Hugh Grant

While other companies use genetically modified organisms, no company is more associated with the practice than Monsanto. The company has been the poster child of the agrichemical industry, and its contentious business practices are the subject of numerous documentaries, exposes, and protests. Monsanto is largely non-customer facing, and its status among the 100 most visible companies is likely the result of negative press. Despite a recent public relations campaign by Monsanto to improve the public opinion on GMOs, the company remains among the most hated in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 57% of Americans consider GMOs to be unsafe. In a statement by Monsanto, the company claimed that a negative reputation can affect planting approval, regulatory decisions, and customer purchases.

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