Rate the Raters issues call to action

Posted on July 14, 2011

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A lot of organizations rank corporate sustainability performance. Through its “Rate the Raters” research project, SustainAbility found 108 of them (no surprise here).  The first 3 phrases of research evaluate the past and present state of ratings. This week, SustainAbility released phase four of its research, which looks ahead to the future of ratings.

Rankings are supposed to help improve corporate social responsibility. Raters request information using surveys that can be as short as a few questions, or as long as 100 pages (no exaggeration). They produce a score and convey those results to the world.

Unfortunately, specific feedback is rare, leaving respondents with little direction as to how to improve results. And, because it takes valuable time to complete each request, companies are left wondering, is it worth it?

What can we do to improve transparency? How do we make sure we’re spending our time on the most meaningful rankings? To that end, SustainAbility is now asking corporate responsibility rankings to fill out a survey. To quote its website on June 12:

“In making this request, we are channeling the sentiment of the many stakeholders with whom we’ve spoken during the project, who want to see the same level of transparency from raters as we all expect from the companies they rate.”

Seems fair to me.

Hopefully it will achieve greater transparency. Taking a turn as the survey respondent may just build a little empathy with raters. And, if it continues to create opportunities for dialogue, I’m all for it.

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