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Our Insights 12 Sep 2013

Results Released Today by 2 Ratings Heavyweights

By Michael Sadowski

Many companies are waking up this morning to find out their sustainability scores, but could the scoring systems themselves be improved?

Today, two heavyweights of the ratings world – the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and CDP – released their 2013 results. DJSI and CDP, according to polled sustainability experts in SustainAbility’s Rate the Raters research, are the 1st and 2nd most familiar ratings respectively in the corporate sustainability field, and are among the top three in terms of credibility.

The annual release of these ratings generates a considerable amount of attention, including praise from companies that have done well (Siemens has again been ranked the world’s leading industrial company in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index) as well as critique. (Congrats to Bank of America on their inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index … wait, hang on, WHAT?!).

Rating corporations on their sustainability practices and performance is a difficult exercise, and every rating – including those as well regarded as CDP and DJSI – has imperfections. Yet, we give credit to CDP and DJSI for evolving and improving how they assess companies, including their working together to streamline and align the climate change questions in DJSI – something that, over time, should reduce the burden for companies completing the DJSI questionnaire.

Through our Rate the Raters research, SustainAbility has spent the last several years working to improve the quality and utility of ratings. We have, for example, conducted in-depth assessments of major ratings, engaged companies on how they get value from ratings and surveyed investors on how they use ratings.

We know that work remains to be done, and are keen to hear your perspectives on open questions that remain and where we might go next with our research.

  • Where do you think ratings such as CDP and DJSI are doing well?
  • Where do you see the biggest need for improvement?
  • Where should SustainAbility focus its attention to further drive improvement in ratings?

Let us know your thoughts below.

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