Special Report

Companies With the Best and Worst Reputations

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5. Wells Fargo & Company
> 2020 reputation quotient: 61.2
> 2019 reputation quotient: 52.7
> Industry: Banking
> CEO: Charles W. Scharf

Though Wells Fargo’s reputation improved from 2019 to 2020, the bank still has one of the five worst reputations among America’s most recognizable companies. Wells Fargo’s reputation took a severe hit in 2016, when it was revealed the bank pressured workers to create fake accounts to inflate sales. In 2020, five former executives were charged for their role in the scandal. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency — part of the U.S. Treasury — is seeking millions of dollars in penalties and lifetime bans from the banking industry for these executives.

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4. Facebook
> 2020 reputation quotient: 60.8
> 2019 reputation quotient: 58.1
> Industry: Social media
> CEO: Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook’s reputation has been seriously damaged in the past four years due to its role in election interference. Ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, the social media site was used by several domestic and foreign entities to spread misinformation, contributing to political polarization in the U.S. and abroad. In addition, consultant group Cambridge Analytica was able to harvest personal data from as many as 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge or consent to tailor ads to target their political leanings.

Source: Peter-Braakmann / iStock

3. Monsanto
> 2020 reputation quotient: 55.2
> 2019 reputation quotient: N/A
> Industry: Agriculture
> CEO: Werner Baumann (Bayer)

Agrochemical company Monsanto was acquired by German pharmaceutical giant Bayer in 2018. Though it no longer exists as an independent company, Monsanto still ranks among the most visible and least reputable companies among American consumers. The company has drawn criticism for a range of reasons, including its production of Agent Orange and its role in developing controversial genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Recently, the company has been in the spotlight again for its popular weed killing product, Roundup. Though the company maintained that the product is safe, Roundup has prompted an onslaught of lawsuits over allegations that it causes cancer. Because Bayer bought Monsanto, it is on the hook for settling tens of thousands of lawsuits to the tune of over $10 billion, one of the largest civil suit settlements in U.S. history.

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2. The Trump Organization
> 2020 reputation quotient: 54.5
> 2019 reputation quotient: 50.1
> Industry: Real estate
> CEO: N/A

The Trump Organization is the real estate empire that was run by Donald Trump before he became president. According to FiveThirtyEight’s approval rating tracker, 54.7% of American voters do not approve of the president, and consequently the business that bears his name is disliked by many as well.

The Trump Organization has been at the center of several controversies since Trump was elected president. The president is currently facing legal action from the attorneys general of Washington D.C. and Maryland, who accuse the president of violating the constitution’s Emolument Clause when the Saudi Arabian government used a veterans group to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars into the company. Manhattan’s district attorney also said the Trump Organization faces “allegations of possible criminal activity,” including alleged hush money payments made to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump before he was elected.

Source: Josie_Desmarais / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

1. Juul Labs
> 2020 reputation quotient: 51.0
> 2019 reputation quotient: N/A
> Industry: e-cigarettes
> CEO: K.C. Crosthwaite

Juul Labs, the company that makes the popular e-cigarette brand Juul, has been blamed for contributing to the rise in underage nicotine use and addiction. E-cigarette use has more than doubled among high schoolers from 2017 to 2019. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reported e-cigarettes such as Juuls have high doses of nicotine that can get users addicted. Respondents to the Harris survey said they considered Juul Labs as one of the least ethical recognizable U.S. companies, and they disliked the products from Juul Labs more than that of any major U.S. company.