The Co-operative Bank has topped Business in the Community’s Corporate Responsibility Index, with BAA and Barclays making-up the top three.

This is the fourth consecutive year leading companies have chosen to submit to public scrutiny by completing the Index, published today as the Top 100 Companies that Count.

The Index has quickly established itself as the leading public benchmark of performance in the complex corporate responsibility agenda. Companies that participate demonstrate a commitment to openness and transparency in leadership, management and in the measurement of social and environmental performance.

A total of 131 companies participated in the Index this year, including 26 new companies, representing 4.2 million employees and a total turnover of #686.6 billion. The average score across all participating companies is 84 per cent that indicates a steady improvement over time, up from 68 per cent in 2002.

Key trends emerging from this year’s Index include an increase in transparency by companies with more public reporting of policies, targets and performance. The Index also shows an increase in companies engaging and developing employees as well as a change in emphasis on staff retention, not just recruitment. An increased focus on reward and recognition of employees was also evident this year.

Business in the Community Chairman and International Chairman, KPMG Michael Rake said: “Transparency of business is key to many stakeholders including investors and is also a contributing factor to building the public’s trust of business. The growth in participating companies now committing to fully disclose their full index submission is a definite move in the right direction.”

“We are delighted that business continues to show leadership by continuing to participate and the Cooperative Bank are to be congratulated for being ranked number one. The Index is becoming increasingly competitive, with new entrants and improved performance across the board.”

Julia Cleverdon, Chief Executive of Business in the Community added: “The Companies that Count listing recognises those who have done well and provides useful information to those who are working to improve.

“Being included in the Index illustrates that the company has taken a systematic approach to dealing with its environmental and social impacts and, just as importantly, that it recognises the need to involve key stakeholders."

When the results were announced in spring, 2006 Chief Executive of the Co-operative Bank, David Anderson said: "The issues of social responsibility and ecological sustainability are higher up the minds of consumers than they've ever been. Long term success in business is now inextricably linked with operating in a responsible manners and customers are increasingly voting with their wallets, as our ethical consumerism research shows.

"We want to be seen as market leaders in social responsibility. It's core to our Co-operative vales; in fact it's one of our business objectives. As this is widely acknowledged to be the best benchmark of success in this field, number one is where we want to be."

For more details about the results and who might top the list in 2007 see