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Reports 29 Jan 2014

The 2013 Ratings Survey: Polling the Experts

A GlobeScan / SustainAbility Survey

By Michael Sadowski

As part of SustainAbility’s Rate the Raters research, GlobeScan and SustainAbility have periodically polled sustainability experts about key sustainability ratings, rankings and indices. We conducted the first survey in 2010, the second in 2011 and this third survey in late 2013.

In conducting this survey, our objective is not to “rate the raters”, but rather to provide perspectives from experts that can help companies, investors and other stakeholders make sense of and get more value from ratings.

Key Findings:

  • As with the 2012 survey, NGOs are again most trusted by experts to judge corporate sustainability performance, but ratings are catching up. Governments and journalists remain least trusted.
  • The five most credible ratings remained the same as in 2012, although the order shuffled. The top five in 2013 are CDP, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Access to Medicines Index, the FTSE4Good Index Series and oekom Corporate Ratings.
  • A number of ratings including Bloomberg, Climate Counts and MSCI ESGResearch experienced notable increases in credibility in 2013.
  • The most mentioned drivers of credibility are 1) having a positive impact on corporate sustainability performance and 2) focusing on the right issues.
  • To improve corporate performance, experts suggest that raters make results fully available to stakeholders and ask more sector-specific questions – two points that were prominent in the third and fourth phases of Rate the Raters.
  • Experts are optimistic about the future of ratings: 63% believe they will be more important three years from now in driving improved corporate sustainability performance.

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