In our last issue (July 6), we referred to the fact that we never see any Catholic entities listed on “Best Employers” or “Top 10 Places to Work” list – despite the fact that the church is committed to teaching and presumably modeling “behaviors that are pro-life, affirm human dignity and acknowledge the critical importance of the family to the common good.”

But just because Catholic entities haven’t made those selective lists doesn’t mean they can’t from the organizations who do. In fact, they can learn quite a bit.

Case in point is a recent survey conducted by Fortune magazine and SurveyMonkey that asked more than 10,000 people across the U.S. which companies on the Fortune 100 list they’d most like to work at. The top four spots were filled by Disney, Alphabet (that’s Google), and Apple.

What’s more revealing – and helpful to organizational leaders everywhere – is why people chose these companies. The survey uncovered five common characteristics that had a powerful influence on their choices.

  • Most trustworthy – In a field of 100 options, Amazon finished first, Disney second, Alphabet seventh and Apple eighth.
  • Most influential – Apple finished second, Amazon fifth, Alphabet tenth and Disney eleventh.
  • Most positive global impact – Alphabet finished second, Amazon third, Apple fourth and Disney fifth.
  • Most innovative – Apple finished first, Alphabet second, Amazon fourth and Disney twentieth.
  • Most likely to be around in 100 years – Disney finished first, Amazon third, Alphabet twelfth and Apple seventeenth.

None of these characteristics are things that are out of reach of nonprofit organizations. Although candidly, they are not necessarily things most organizations of any kind focus on.

Resonate with Catholic organizations

Especially intriguing is the fact that all five of these characteristics would seem to resonate a lot with the broad mission of all Catholic organizations. Certainly the church wants to have a positive global impact and is likely to be around in 100 years. While innovation may not seem to be a particular focus, in more than two millennia of existence it has shown a remarkable ability to innovate across times and cultures.

It absolutely wants to be influential in both individual lives and the broad sweep of human history, and it obviously aspires to be trustworthy even if events in the past decade have seriously undermined that virtue

Catholic challenges

Some comments in the survey’s report also challenge Catholic entities and leaders. For example:

Trust – the survey notes that it’s no surprise that Disney finished so high (second) in trustworthiness because it “has spent nearly 100 years building a brand people believe in, and it’s one that people think is built to last.” While the church has been around over 2,000 years, how well has it done building a brand people believe in? 

Positive global impact – Alphabet finished so high (second) in this category because so many people turn to its ubiquitous search engine Google so often and find what they’re looking for. With Google even close counts. It makes some allowance for misspelled words and wrong search terms. What are church organizations doing to serve people’s needs on a regular daily basis, and how can we do more of it better?

Consistency – Despite some reports about it being a brutal workplace (refuted by many current employees), got top marks for being trustworthy and finished in one of the top five places in all five categories. Two questions for Catholic entities are: Do your employees and/or members have that sort of faith in you? Why or why not?

Innovation and influence – In commenting on Apple’s top rating for innovation and No. 2 rating for influence, the survey says: “It’s no surprise that people want to work for a company that’s doing exciting things that influence people’s lives.” Three questions for Catholic entities: Are we doing exciting thing that influence people’s lives? Why or why not? And if we are innovating and influencing, why aren’t more people more aware of our impact?

While the Catholic mission is vastly different from the for-profit companies included in this survey, the reasons why people are attracted to them are clearly not alien to the church’s broad mission. So it’s likely we can learn valuable lessons from these companies even if they can’t give Catholic Church leaders a blueprint for service and sustainability in the world today.

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