Charlie Ashford

2012: And the winner is…

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Charlie Ashford
7th January, 2013, 10:17 am

Roll up, roll up, it’s that time again… Cast your votes now for the annual Worst Company of the Year awards!

The winning company will take its place next to past champions like Barclays, Glencore and Dow, all of which are vying for the title of Horriblest Company Ever! (not really)

This year’s nominees represent some of 2012′s biggest examples of corporate bad behaviour. There’s Lonmin, which threatened striking workers with the sack after 44 were killed by police. There’s G4S, for being “complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine”. And of course there’s Shell, ploughing ahead with plans to drill in the Arctic, despite the howls of environmentalists.

The awards are a nice little bit of viral campaigning. But, as I’ve argued before, focusing exclusively on the bad guys isn’t always the best way to make progress.

So who are this year’s best corporate citizens?

At first glance, it’s a bit of a tough one. 2012 was a good year for corporate scandals. HSBC launched a $100m water partnership, but was also caught up in a huge mess over money laundering. Apple agreed to dump coal, but only while dealing with concerns over factory conditions in China. And Walmart may have been the biggest corporate user of solar power in the US, but also had to face investigations into bribery.

There are plenty more companies who made leaps forward in sustainability in 2012 though. Microsoft went carbon neutral. Nike made its supply chain database open to the public. Safaricom/Vodafone brought mobile savings to millions of Africans, and M&S launched the Shwop Coat.

You could argue that sustainability is more about steady improvements than big, media-friendly announcements. Still, it’s worth celebrating the companies making big strides.

So who’s your Best Company of 2012? Tell us in the comments below, and I’ll see if I can knock up a trophy.


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