[Ok-sus] Triple Pundit: 5 Quick Ways to Identify a Responsible Company

Eric Pollard ewpollard at gmail.com
Thu Mar 28 14:10:25 UTC 2013


This list is probably limited to larger corporations, but still a good
starting point in identifying more socially and environmentally companies.
5 Quick Ways to Identify a Responsible CompanyBy Raz
Godelnik<http://www.triplepundit.com/author/raz-godelnik/>| March
22nd, 2013Last
week GlobeScan published interesting
findings<http://www.globescan.com/commentary-and-analysis/featured-findings/entry/large-numbers-remain-unable-or-unwilling-to-name-a-socially-responsible-company.html>from
one of its latest
surveys <http://www.globescan.com/expertise/trends/globescan-radar.html> –
“significant numbers of survey respondents around the world cannot or will
not name a single socially responsible company when asked, and this
proportion appears to be rising in many countries.”

This is a worldwide phenomenon in both developing and developed countries.
 Large numbers of people can’t name a socially responsible company. In
India for example it’s 57 percent, while in the U.S., it’s 39 percent.

Should we be surprised? Not really. After all, how can the average person
distinguish a ‘good’ company from a ‘bad’ one, especially with so much
greenwashing <http://www.triplepundit.com/topic/greenwashing> going on? And
furthermore – how can this person give a company thumbs up or thumbs down
without analyzing its records, which is not very likely to happen?

So it got me wondering – is there a shortcut that will generate a valid
answer in couple of minutes? That seems to be a much more reasonable time
frame for such a search. While we can’t say the answer is positive for
every company, we believe it’s doable and we’re here to help with 5 ways to
identify if a company is responsible for the busy yet interested global
citizen.

Before we start, here’s a tip – finding that a company is responsible
through one of the offered methods might not be enough. If you want to be
on the safe side try to get a positive reply from at least two of these
resources.

*1. B corporation* – this is one of the best ways to identify a responsible
company. If a company has a B certification it means that it completed the B
Impact Assessment <http://b-lab.force.com/bcorp/AssessmentReg> and earned a
reviewed minimum score of 80 out of 200 points. In addition, this seal also
means that the company has met the legal requirement for B Corp
certification<http://www.bcorporation.net/become-a-b-corp/why-become-a-b-corp/protect-your-mission>,
i.e. amended its governing documents or adopted benefit corporation status
to meet the legal requirement for certification for its state of
incorporation and corporate structure.

*What to do?* Type a company’s name on the B Lab’s search
page<http://www.bcorporation.net/community/find-a-b-corp>to figure out
if it has a B Corp certification.

Pros:  easy to use, transparent (companies’ assessments are available on
the website), third-party verification.

Cons: Only about 700 companies have this certification and most of them are
in North America, so it is still a very limited method.

*2.* *Sustainability and CDP reporting* – reporting is a good indication
for responsibility, whether it’s a sustainability report (especially if it
is prepared in accordance with GRI
<http://www.triplepundit.com/topic/gri>guidelines) or report on their
carbon, water or forests impacts to the
CDP <http://www.triplepundit.com/topic/cdp>.

*What to do?* Search on the GRI
database<http://database.globalreporting.org/search>for the company.
If you found it reported, check the grade level and look
for the ‘plus,’ which indicates on external review and assurance. Look also
at the CDP database<https://www.cdproject.net/en-US/Results/Pages/responses.aspx>for
carbon, water and forests disclosure reports.

Pros:  easy to use, holistic, provides indication on the company’s level of
transparency and engagement.

Cons: assuming that reporting by itself is an indication of responsibility
is somewhat simplistic.

*3. Rankings and indices* – they can give you a good indication, especially
the ones using a more holistic and credible methodology on which companies
are leaders and which ones are laggards when it comes to CSR.

*What to do?* Look for the company you’re checking on rankings such as Global
100 <http://www.global100.org/annual-lists/2013-global-100-list.html> or
CRO’s 100 Best Corporate
Citizens<http://www.thecro.com/files/100Best2012_List_3.8.pdf>and
indices such as Dow
Jones Sustainability Index <http://www.sustainability-indexes.com/> or FTS4Good
Index Series <http://www.ftse.com/Indices/FTSE4Good_Index_Series/index.jsp>.

Pros:  third party verification, (usually) provides an indication of the
big picture rather than just one issue or two.

Cons: many times rankings are based on ‘best in class’
principle<http://www.triplepundit.com/2013/01/learn-global-100-ranking-worlds-sustainable-companies/>which
can be misleading, it’s not easy to find companies on the indices.

*4. CSR ratings* – some companies do the hard work for you and provide CSR
ratings and other relevant information. One of these service providers is
for example CSRHub <http://www.csrhub.com/>, which provides “access to
corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information
on 7,000+ companies from 135 industries in 91 countries.”

*What to do?* Type a company’s name on the search box on the upper right
side of the homepage. Then compare the company’s ratings on different
categories (overall, community, employees, environment and governance) to
‘all company average’ ratings – here’s an example of
Nike<http://www.csrhub.com/CSR_and_sustainability_information/NIKE-Inc>
.

Pros:  easy to use, covers thousands of companies, you can see the
resources used for the analysis.

Cons: most of comparative ratings as well as the detailed information is
available only for registered users.

*5. Shareholder resolutions* – this is a good way to find out what
shareholders think on the company’s responsibility. A company that is more
responsible will have a smaller number of shareholder
resolutions<http://www.triplepundit.com/topic/shareholder-resolutions>if
at all, and will work together with its shareholders to find agreeable
solutions to the issues that they bring up through the resolutions.

*What to do?* Use Ceres’
database<http://www.ceres.org/incr/engagement/corporate-dialogues/shareholder-resolutions#%21/subject=&year=&company=CMS%20Energy%20Corp.&filer=&sector=&status=&memo=&all=>to
look for a specific company. One of the filters is a company filter
enabling you to search by company. You can also click on the links on the
‘resolution summary’ column to get more details on the resolutions.

Pros:  easy to use, detailed, provides the shareholders’ perspective, good
indication to see to what extent a company actually walks the talk.

Cons: limited to public companies, the database includes only 3 years, and
you only learn on the company’s approach to specific issues, which makes it
more difficult to see the whole picture.

Do you have more ideas? Feel free to comment and share!

[Image credit: olarte.ollie, Flickr Creative
Commons<http://www.flickr.com/photos/ollieolarte/3028314931/>
]

*Raz Godelnik is the co-founder of
Eco-Libris<http://ecolibris.blogspot.com/> and
an adjunct faculty at the University of Delaware’s Business School, CUNY
SPS and the Parsons The New School for Design, teaching courses in green
business, sustainable design and new product development. You can follow
Raz on Twitter <https://twitter.com/ecolibris/>.*


-- 
Eric W. Pollard
C: (918) 804-2011
Twitter <https://twitter.com/#%21/ewpollard>
Facebook <http://www.facebook.com/ewpollard>
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