A new best company: Time Warner Corp.
Below is an excerpt from our recently-released report “2012 Good Company Index: It (Still) Pays to Be Good.”
It’s Time Warner’s time at the top. The media company stands alone at the pinnacle of the 2012 Good Company Index. It earned a grade of A-, the only A grade earned by any of the Fortune 100 companies this year. Although Time Warner had a middle-of-the-road score as a seller, it earned positive marks as an employer and had particularly strong results as a steward of communities and the planet.
As a traditional media company trying to reshape itself to serve audiences that are increasingly online and mobile, Time Warner has faced challenges in recent years. CEO Jeffrey Bewkes has streamlined operations, cutting some jobs along the way. But Bewkes has shown he is willing to bear some of the cost-cutting as well. He told the New York Times he was willing to give up his office with a coveted view of Manhattan’s Central Park, calling Time Warner’s corporate headquarters near the park an “indulgence.”
And employees overall believe the company to be a decent one to work for. Time Warner’s score at employee feedback site Glassdoor.com was 3.4 out of 5, placing it in the top quarter of Fortune 100 companies we ranked. One employee posting at Glassdoor called Time Warner a “Great place to work,” adding that “management seems to know what it’s doing and communicates that message well with employees at the company. Benefits are strong.”
Another sign of Time Warner’s worthiness as an employer can be seen in the company’s new chief of the Time Inc. magazine division, Laura Lang. A recent New York Times profile indicates she embodies key traits of good leadership: setting a smart digital strategy to reverse declining operating income and revenue, avoiding major layoffs, and communicating extensively with employees in a series of meetings in offices throughout the country and in London. “The point of the process was to say we’re not going away in a room and shutting the door and whispering,” Lang told the New York Times.
That same spirit of transparency helped Time Warner earn high marks as a steward. The company ranked in the top tier of organizations on the CPA-Zicklin Index of Corporate Political Accountability and Disclosure. Time Warner also earned points as a Good Steward for its inclusion on the Ethisphere Institute’s list of the World’s Most Ethical Companies and the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index, as well as its high score on the Newsweek ranking of companies’ environmental performance.
Significantly, Time Warner didn’t lose any points for running afoul of the law in the last five years (the period included in our ratings). In our first Good Company Index, Time Warner scored a B-, its score negatively affected by a 2005 incident in which it agreed to pay $300 million to settle fraud charges by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Among other allegations, the SEC said Time Warner overstated online advertising revenue and the number of its Internet subscribers. We did not turn up significant penalties or fines against the company since then, indicating it has played by the rules—a fundamental feature of a good steward.
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