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CANADIAN COMPANIES CONTINUE TO ENJOY STRONG REPUTATIONS

May 1, 2019at 12:00 PM EDT

SUSAN KRASHINSKY ROBERTSON - MEDIA AND MARKETING REPORTER

PUBLISHED MAY 1, 2019

Companies are under more scrutiny than ever. Social media, a neverending news cycle and declining trust over all are contributing to a moment of "reputational risk," according to a new study.

But even in a challenging environment, Canadian companies are faring well, according to the Boston-based Reputation Institute. This is the fifth year that the firm has conducted its worldwide RepTrak study in Canada, and the largest study in this market so far with roughly 40,900 people surveyed and 209 companies measured. Over all, Canadian companies had a 5.2-point increase in reputation, based on the study’s 100-point scale. That’s significant because the firm says that it has seen even a one-point change correlate to significant increases in market capitalization.

The improvement was driven partly by a global trend with a particular impact in Canada: People are more inclined than ever to support companies associated with their home country. While in the past, international brands’ outsized status would help their reputation, there is now a strategic advantage in being Canadian-owned in Canada, according to the research.

Another contributor to the increase in overall corporate reputation was an emphasis on innovation. Canadian companies over all saw a 6.5-point higher rating in a perception of being innovative, a jump that puts them on par with non-Canadian companies this year.

"That says that companies have woken up to the importance of research and development, and of investment in innovating the customer experience, " said Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief reputation officer at the firm. "...That’s great for the long-term economic prosperity of the country over all. "

Entertainment phenomenon Cirque du Soleil has the strongest reputation in Canada, according to the Reputation Institute’s latest study. The finding places the company in a rarefied field, with an “excellent” ranking granted to fewer than 0.01 per cent of all businesses globally.

The study’s reputation point scores are calculated by asking each person in the survey group to rate two companies with which they are familiar. Those ratings are based on their perceptions of seven factors – the company’s products and services, its level of innovation, business performance, leadership, what it is like as a workplace, its corporate citizenship and governance. Respondents are also asked to rate emotional factors, as well as their willingness to support the company, to trust it, and to become involved (by buying products, for example, or considering working there or becoming an investor).

Corporate citizenship and governance were particularly significant drivers of reputation in Canada, the study found. While reputation has been improving over all, trust has been eroding, and that could present a future risk.

"Companies need to operate ethically, to be open and transparent, to be in full disclosure of their business practices. Otherwise, it results in suspicion and suspicion can erode business reputation, " Mr. Hahn-Griffiths said.

One example is SNC-Lavalin, which had a weak reputation score, with governance and citizenship scoring particularly low. More than 59 per cent of people surveyed were unsure whether the company is ethical. And the report suggested some of that “reputational challenge” has rubbed off on the Canadian government and on the prime minister, following allegations that Justin Trudeau pressured the former attorney general to order a negotiated settlement in the criminal prosecution of the company.

"The SNC-Lavalin scandal and the association with Trudeau has put all companies in the public light in terms of where they align in the political spectrum,” Mr. Hahn-Griffiths said. “There was a time when business and politics didn’t mix. Today, the reality is, they mix. You’ve got to tread carefully. "

Top 50 most reputable companies in Canada, 2019

RANK

1

COMPANY

Cirque Du Soleil

RATING

Excellent

RANK

2

COMPANY

Mountain Equipement co-op

RATING

Strong

RANK

3

COMPANY

Jamieson Natural Sources

RATING

Strong

RANK

4

COMPANY

Cascades

RATING  

Strong

RANK

5

COMPANY

Home Hardware

RATING

Strong

RANK

6

COMPANY

Interac Corporation

RATING

Strong

RANK

7

COMPANY

The Canadian Automobile Association

RATING

Strong

RANK

8

COMPANY

IMAX

RATING

Strong

RANK

9

COMPANY

Canadian Tire Corporation

RATING  

Strong

RANK

10

COMPANY

Metro Inc.

RATING

Strong

RANK

11

COMPANY

Saputo Inc.

RATING

Strong

RANK

12

COMPANY

Cineplex Entertainment

RATING

Strong

RANK  

13

COMPANY

Dollarama

RATING

Strong

RANK

14

COMPANY

McCain Foods Ltd.

RATING

Strong

RANK

15

COMPANY

Kal Tire

RATING

Strong

RANK

16

COMPANY

Sleep Country Canada Holdings Inc.

RATING

Strong

RANK

17

COMPANY

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

RATING

Strong

RANK

18

COMPANY

Aéroports de Montréal

RATING

Strong

RANK

19

COMPANY

VIA Rail Canada

RATING

Strong

RANK

20

COMPANY

Roots Ltd.

RATING

Strong

RANK

21

COMPANY

Westjet

RATING  

Strong

RANK

22

COMPANY

The Beer Store

RATING

Strong

RANK

23

COMPANY

Bombardier Recreational Products

RATING

Strong

RANK

24

COMPANY

Royal Band of Canada

RATING

Strong

RANK

25

COMPANY

Hudson Bay’s Company

RATING

Strong

RANK

26

COMPANY

Canadian National

RATING

Strong

RANK

27

COMPANY

Greater Toronto Airports Authority

RATING

Strong

RANK

28

COMPANY

Sun Life Financial

RATING

Strong

RANK

29

COMPANY

Maple Leaf Foods Inc.

RATING

Average

RANK

30

COMPANY

Loto-Quebec

RATING

Average

RANK

31

COMPANY

Bank of Nova Scotia

RATING

Average

RANK

32

COMPANY

Lululemon Athletica Inc.

RATING

Average

RANK

33

COMPANY

Bank of Canada

RATING

Average

RANK

34

COMPANY

Bank of Montreal

RATING

Average

RANK

35

COMPANY

Giant Tiger Stores Ltd.

RATING

Average

RANK

36

COMPANY

Desjardins Group

RATING

Average

RANK

37

COMPANY

Toronto-Dominion Bank

RATING

Average

RANK

38

COMPANY

Leon’s Furniture Ltd.

RATING

Average

RANK

39

COMPANY

Air Transat

RATING

Average

RANK

40

COMPANY

Air Canada

RATING

Average

RANK

41

COMPANY

Loblaws Inc.

RATING

Average

RANK

42

COMPANY

Manulife Fiancial Corporation

RATING  

Average

RANK

43

COMPANY

George Weston Limited

RATING  

Average

RANK

44

COMPANY

Canada Goose Holdings Inc.

RATING

Average

RANK

45

COMPANY

Groupe Dynamite

RATING

Average

RANK  

46

COMPANY

National Bank of Canada

RATING

 

RANK

47

COMPANY

The Co-Operators

RATING

Average

RANK

48

COMPANY

Telus Corporation

RATING

Average

RANK

49

COMPANY

Shaw Communications

RATING

Average

RANK

50

COMPANY

Husky Energy Inc

RATING

Average

Source: Reputation Institute