The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, February 26, 2004  

A Continuing Series

Fortune is out with its annual list of “America’s most admired companies.”

In the number-one slot, and for the second year in a row: Wal-Mart Stores Inc.


A few other items from the survey:

Alcoa Inc. is ranked second in the social responsibility category. No wonder Paul O’Neill felt out of place in the Bush administration.

United Parcel Service Inc. is number one according to this criterion. I don’t really know why.

Altria Corp., parent of Philip Morris Inc., is ranked number eight in social responsibility. Even as a smoker, and of Benson & Hedges, a Philip Morris brand, that ranking has my right eyebrow climbing of its own accord. I’m paying $5.20 a pack for that junk. (At least when I’m not buying “Basics,” which I have been lately, and which are every bit as awful as they sound.) Not very sociable, is that? The company’s charitable donations, maybe?

But getting back to Wal-Mart, I suspect many thinking people are concerned about this ranking. They should be. Fortune’s survey, conducted by the Hay Group, solicited the opinions of 10,000 executives, board directors, and securities analysts, the “in-the-know” people.

And these saps, looking at the dense and varied fabric that is American capitalism, picked Wal-Mart above all others.

If they would have their way, this would be your future. Enjoy.

[Post-publication addendum: Reader A.E. writes: “Philip Morris, from what I hear, has a very high level of women and minorities in key management positions. They also are very popular with small businesses. They often pick up the legal fees for small businesses fighting government regulations. (In New York, from what I'm told, the bar owners went to Philip Morris to get them to pay for the lawyers to fight the smoking ban.) The angle they are going to take is to sue New York for violating OSHA regulations because only OSHA can regulate the workplace. I know one bar owner and a convenience store owner who have nothing but praise for them.”]

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