Do Americans want to work at big companies? Do they trust them and think they have a positive global impact? Those were just some of the questions posed to 10,143 participants of SurveyMonkey’s survey that determined how U.S. adults perceive the top 100 businesses in the Fortune 500.
The Fortune 500 comprises some of the most influential businesses in the country. The companies on this year’s list make up two-thirds of the U.S. GDP. Together they racked up $12 trillion in revenues and logged $840 billion in profits. Collectively they employ 27.9 million people worldwide.
The top 10 includes several household names:
- Exxon Mobil
- Berkshire Hathaway
- UnitedHealth Group
- CVS Health
- General Motors
- Ford Motor
So it’s no wonder that respondents named Apple, GM, and Exxon as the most influential businesses, in their opinion. Respondents were asked to compare companies across a set of 13 metrics including most "innovative," "influential," and "cares the most about you," as well as "most ruthless" and "worst for the country."
Each person did not evaluate all 100 companies but did get a subset to assign ranks to.
Walmart also proved to be top of mind, and in respondents’ rankings, but not for favorable reasons. Those surveyed awarded the Bentonville, Arkansas-based behemoth first place for negative global impact. They also reported it was the most ruthless and worst overall for the country, and would like to see it shut down.
Tech companies, on the other hand, were viewed much more positively. Amazon, Apple, Alphabet (Google), and Microsoft all ranked among the top 10 for most innovative, influential, and for having positive global impact. Respondents said these companies would be the lucky recipients of their life savings if they were to invest. That’s probably because those surveyed also picked these tech giants as part of a group of businesses that would still be going concerns in 100 years.
Additionally, tech companies scored high as places Americans would most like to work. But as SurveyMonkey’s analysts found, those opinions change based on age, gender, political leanings, and geographic location of the respondents.
Men were more likely to want to work at a tech company. Male respondents cited four tech companies out of five as their most desired employer (Amazon, Alphabet, Apple, Microsoft). Men gave high marks to Boeing and Lockheed Martin. For women, Disney ranked number one, but Apple and Amazon also scored among their top five.
Noble Kuriakose, a research scientist at SurveyMonkey, explains, "People want to work at companies that are cool and capture our imagination." That ranges from cool technology that affects their day to day and will transform our future or "companies we’ve dreamed about working for since we were kids—the movie business (Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox), or airlines/aeronautics (American Airlines, Delta, Lockheed Martin, Boeing)," he says.
Generally, the list of the top 20 companies that people said they wanted to work for the most didn't differ that much between genders, according to Kuriakose. He points to age differences as more revealing of how differently older and younger perceive some companies. Nike, for example, came in at number four among the millennial (18-29) set. But the athletic apparel company’s score dropped as the respondents got older: ages 30-44 ranked it at number seven, ages 45-59 ranked it at number 17, and ages 60 and over ranked it at number 52. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway saw the reverse in rankings. Millennials put it at number 88, while boomers ranked it number seven.
Nike was also named number four on the list of where millennial respondents said they would most like to work. Disney was number one, followed by Google, and Amazon. Each of these companies has made public strides to be more sustainable and becoming better corporate citizens.
SurveyMonkey’s findings dovetail with the recently released Millennial Survey from Deloitte. In addition to providing leadership development opportunities, the report revealed that for young adults, companies dedicated making the world a better, more sustainable, and compassionate place trump even those that promise a hefty paycheck.
Kuriakose notes that SurveyMonkey didn’t specifically ask people why they want to work at these companies. However, he says, they all have four things in common. "The companies all ranked high on innovation, global impact, trustworthy and likely to be around in 100 years," he says, "Americans want to work for innovative, trustworthy companies with impact that will be around for a long time."