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Corporate responsibility ratings under scrutiny

It’s good news that Ceres and the Tellus Institute is about to begin work on a single standard for rating the sustainability performance of companies.

They are both respected outfits with decent pedigree. Allen White of Tellus is a thoughtful individual who has contributed a huge amount to the corporate responsibility movement.

(Happily, in a minor digression, I sat next to him at Red Sox game in Boston recently and we tried to combine discussing CR membership groups with watching the Sox stage an almost epic comeback to win the game)

That aside, surely a more unified system is a helpful idea if it can be done with broad agreement. Note the caveat. SustainAbility, the consultancy, did some work in the area recently which is worth a look.

I have blogged in the past on the absurdity of some ratings systems.

We published a briefing on the current morass of rankings and ratings systems earlier this year which might also be of interest.

SocialFunds.com reports that:

“The initiative, which will be modeled on GRI, will be rolled out in two phases over the next year. The first “will systematically evaluate the quality of existing ratings programs from both a process and content standpoint,” and be followed by the design of “a best-practice ratings framework as a benchmark for use by raters and ratings users.””

This will no doubt be causing a cat fight between CERES, Tellus and the various ratings outfits over the next year or two.

That’s surely a good thing: For far too long ratings and rankings outfits have got away with much less public scrutiny than they deserved. At Ethical Corporation, we’ve shon the spotlight on them now and again, but not as much as we should have.

From now on we’ll be watching the progress of CERES and Tellus with great interest.

Ratings and rankings firms are set for some “interesting times”, as the Chinese proverb puts it.

1 Comment

  1. Tony,

    This blogpost is a real service to anyone looking for a critical and thoughtful overview of CSR ratings. Not an easy thing to do.

    Thanks for your contribution.

    Charles H. Green
    Trusted Advisor Associates

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