Joe Public gets say in new online rankingsMay 2009
A new online ratings system will assess companies’ ethical performance using a combination of expert analysis and the views of the public.
The consumer-focused Scryve website gives 3500 companies a mark out of ten as judged by the US-based corporate responsibility research consultancy KLD, Scryve’s own in-house researchers – and visitors to the site.
Ratings are based on performance in the two key areas of environment and community. KLD data is used as the basis for every rating, but in-house researchers feed in information from other sources, such as newspapers and non-governmental organization reports.
Once a company profile is posted, visitors to the site can influence the process by filing their own ratings and comments. These ratings are added to produce a continuing overall score for the company.
An area on the website advises users on the factors they should consider when deciding their own marks, and suggests information sources, including other websites, for use in forming views.
Site users can change company information they believe is inaccurate or outdated, but Scryve maintains overall charge of what goes into the profiles.
The top mark is ten out of ten. Brands as well as companies are rated, so that although Coca-Cola, for instance, has a rating of four, some of its brands, such as Dasani water (five) and Dr Pepper (two), have different scores. Most companies so far rated are based in North America.
Aron Cramer, chief executive of US-based Business for Social Responsibility, said website social and environmental rating systems such as Scryve were ‘almost certain to proliferate’ as part of the more interactive ‘Web2.0’ era, in which user-generated rankings such as Yelp! are a popular way for consumers to check restaurants and other businesses.
However, he suspected the model might not be so useful for a more complex subject such as corporate responsibility – and warned that members of the public were being directed by Scryve to information sources that often pick negative, rather than positive, things to say.
‘Also, in a world where companies buckle under the weight of requests from ratings agencies and indices, it’s not altogether clear that we need more rankings of any kind,’ he said.
‘Tools such as these offer micro-rankings that mean a lot to those using it but can provide little direction to companies trying to generate sustainable products and services to a fragmenting marketplace.
‘The question is whether services like this will build – or fragment, and therefore slow down – market demand for sustainability.’
Scryve, which is funded partly by public donations, offers users a service automatically showing a company’s ranking in a pop-up box whenever that company’s website is visited.
No one from Scryve was available to comment on methodology.
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