When talking about financial service companies, most people find it hard not to imagine greedy multinational banks and Wall Street “bad guys” set out to fleece hardworking main street. The crash of 2008 and the resulting bail out of the financial industry perpetuated this image even further.
However, there are a few firms that are combating these images, not just by heartfelt commercials and “we care about you” slogans, but by actual business actions and community engagement. In a recent post where we rated the DOW 30 stocks based on our Calpacity platform, American Express received one of the top rankings, having the highest ESG score among the financial sector stocks. This might not come as a surprise to Amex card holders whose satisfaction is testament to the high costumer service record sustained by the company.
Maintaining a strong presence as a community activist and small business supporter has also helped American Express establish a positive public image a midst negative sentiments towards its industry. American Express not only achieves high costumer satisfaction which is of course just good business, but also actively supports hundreds of community initiatives. They have initiated programs to help small businesses promote themselves, created training programs for women-owned business and supported programs to help minorities establish financial service accounts. Examples include sponsoring programs such as “giveme5″ and small business Saturday campaigns.
In 2013, American Express was ranked 51st on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies To Work For list, (which considering that they are not a new tech cutting edge company such as Google (Number 1) and DreamWorks Animation (Number 12) is good place to be. Employees report a healthy culture with below average turnover.
On the environmental front American Express has also taken significant striedes. From their Corporate Social Responsibility report
In 2007, American Express first calculated the company’s carbon footprint and set a five-year goal to reduce it by 10 percent by 2012. We exceeded this inaugural goal significantly, lowering our carbon footprint by 27.5 percent including an absolute 10.2 percent decrease through in electricity use and business travel. While this is significant progress, there is more work to do. Our second generation carbon footprint reduction goal is to reduce American Express’s carbon footprint an additional 10 percent by 2017.
At a time when many financial firms are struggling with corporate image and community relations, American Express is leading the financial sector with just the type of programs that we see as as the cornerstone of corporate social responsibility and community engagement.
To learn how to incorporate companies like this in your investment strategy, visit esgintegrated.com to join our beta community and scan your portfolio for ESG factors and see how it fares.