From UnitedHealth to Walmart: The Top 8 Corporate Citizens for 2014

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

The end of the year is always a time of reflection — a time to look back at the year and focus on the highlights, while simultaneously pulling what lessons we can from our shortcomings. That holds true for individuals as well as organizations, and just as we all have good years and bad in our personal lives, businesses big and small can go through good years and rough ones.

For those companies that have truly made strides and gone out of their way to promote a more positive environment — both internally and externally — there are awards that are handed down through various channels to note those accomplishments. One of the most well-known, particularly in the business world, is awarded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce through its annual Corporate Citizenship Awards. There are several categories the Chamber looks at, and eight companies that are ultimately honored at the end of the year.

For the Corporate Citizenship Awards, the Chamber gives out hardware in categories ranging from commitment to education, community improvement, and environmental stewardship. The award winners are judged based on which companies best accomplished social and community initiatives within the business community. Though there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of companies to select from, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ultimately whittles the list down to a few finalists, and then selects the winners in late November.

Who won this year? Read on to see the eight companies honored as America’s top corporate citizens for 2014.

Source: Unitedhealth Group

Source: Unitedhealth Group

1. UnitedHealth Group — Best Corporate Steward: Large Business

In the large business category for best corporate steward, UnitedHealth Group takes home the prize. For the company’s work in three key areas including transforming health with communities, volunteerism, and the company’s work to increase the number of future health professionals, UnitedHealth blew away the competition.

“We are honored to receive the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Best Corporate Steward – Large Business award,” said Jeff Alter, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Commercial Group. “UnitedHealth Group has a clear vision of how we can leverage philanthropy, business innovation and volunteerism to make a real difference. Plus, our employees are passionate, engaged and dedicated to helping build healthier communities through their work and all they do outside of work. They made this award possible.”

Source: Constant Contact

Source: Constant Contact

2. Constant Contact — Best Corporate Steward: Small and Middle Market Business

Moving down in size, online marketing company Constant Contact was awarded as the best corporate steward in the small and middle market business segment. Constant Contact showed many areas of strength over the course of 2014 in order to bring home this year’s prize including volunteerism, donated accounts, and employee benefits.

“Last year, the company contributed more than $3.5 million through Cares4Kids,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce writes about their award winner. “Employees take advantage of the company’s eight-hour paid volunteering policy and, in 2013, volunteered more than 1,000 hours.” Constant Contact beat out Cetra Language Solutions and Blackbaud, Inc. — both worthy competitors — to win 2014’s award.

Source: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

3. PNC Financial Services Group — Best Commitment to Education Program Award

Typically, news surrounding banks and financial institutions isn’t very positive. That isn’t the case with PNC Bank, however, as the company has been honored for its commitment to education by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. PNC soared past business heavweights Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson, thanks to the company’s commitment to helping children get a head start in their schooling.

“In 2004, PNC launched PNC Grow Up Great and PNC Crezca con Éxito (GREAT), a $350M, multi-year, bilingual initiative to help prepare children for success in school and life,” the U.S. Chamber writes. “GREAT has been a catalyst for positive change in ECE: It has served more than 2 million children, provided professional development to 138,000 teachers, and awarded more than $73 million to nonprofit organizations.”

Source: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

4. Capital One Financial Corporation — Best Community Improvement Program Award

Another financial institution that is promoting some good in society is the Capital One Financial Corporation, which is being singled out for its work in community improvement. In this category specifically, Capital One beat out Toyota and Amway, behind the company’s efforts in cities like New Orleans to help the continuous rebuilding following Hurricane Katrina, almost a decade later.

“Capital One associates have volunteered over 50,000 hours in the community, investing 1,100 hours to help build homes, and offered eight courses on financial literacy,” says the U.S Chamber of Commerce. It’s these efforts that set Capital One apart, and ultimately landed them the community improvement prize.

Source: Cornerstone

Source: Cornerstone

5. Cornerstone OnDemand — Best Disaster Response and Community Resilience Program Award

“We saw the opportunity to leverage Cornerstone OnDemand’s learning software and its expertise in training and development to be a conduit for change among humanitarian aid workers,” says Julie Brandt, executive director of the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation, following the company’s victory in the disaster response and community resilience category. “We are honored to win this prestigious award and thank our partners for their continuing support to democratize access to training for aid workers around the world.”

Behind those efforts to assist humanitarian efforts, Cornerstone OnDemand came out victorious over Citi and Farmer’s Insurance, both of which put in valiant efforts in helping with cleanups and relief efforts following Hurricane Sandy and the tornado outbreaks in Joplin, Mo.

Source: Entergy

Source: Entergy

6. Entergy — Best Economic Empowerment Program Award

Entergy isn’t just a powerful name in the energy sector, it’s also blazing a path in the field of economic empowerment. Through the company’s efforts in assisting low-income customers with its Super Tax Day program, Entergy is taking home the best economic empowerment program award for 2014.

“We know that helping our customers keep more of what they’ve earned can make a real difference in their lives,” said Patty Riddlebarger, director of corporate social responsibility for Entergy. “Recipients use the extra dollars to further their educations, initiate home ownership and also meet basic needs like medicine, groceries, and utility bills.” The company estimates that the economic impact of its program to be more than $250 million, and impacted more than 50,000 customers.

Source: Michele Tantussi/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Michele Tantussi/AFP/Getty Images

7. Siemens Foundation — Best Environmental Stewardship Program Award

If there’s one company putting considerable efforts behind environmental conservation, it’s the Siemens Foundation. The company put together the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, resulting in thousands of students helping to develop environmental solutions to pollution and sustainability issues.

“The Siemens WCCTWC amplifies the Foundation’s commitment to building the future pipeline of STEM graduates through a national student engagement challenge where America’s youth are empowered to find answers,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says. It’s programs like this that helped earn Siemens this year’s environmental stewardship award.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

8. Walmart — Best Health and Wellness Program Award

While the name Walmart appearing on the winner’s list may be a surprise to many people, the company’s efforts in health and wellness did not go unnoticed by the Chamber of Commerce. Wal-Mart’s Fighting Hunger Together initiative provides a number of different foods to the country’s economically disadvantaged in a $2 billion effort.

“It has given $260 million in cash and $2.6 billion in in-kind donations, delivering on its commitment one-year ahead of schedule,” says the Chamber of Commerce. Walmart may get a bad rap on a number of issues, but the company is doing some significant good to help feed America’s hungry.

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