Disclosure & Discovery
Benchmarking performance on a wide range of responsibility and sustainability issues, and using the results to inform and empower businesses, is at the heart of what Responsible 100 does.
We support all kinds of organisations in describing how they respond to the various responsibility challenges they face.
Issue by issue, we explain the basics of what every business should know and respond to at a minimum, irrespective of its size or sector.
The illustrations on this page use Living Wage as an example. On the Living Wage issues page we’ve set out some of the key information, e.g. we reveal that evidence shows very low or ‘poverty wages’ cause incredible harm and hardship, for families and society generally, and how the Real Living Wage has been designed to ensure the lowest paid earn enough to live on.
In our bespoke question sets for managers and employees in the respondent business, we provide prompts to help these key stakeholder groups to make relevant, basic disclosures regarding their perceived exposure to the issue and to indicate what practices they currently pursue, if any, in summary. These are the earliest steps in our process where nothing is shared nor published.
Collating Real Life Examples
Over the year, Responsible 100 has explored thousands of different real-life policy and practice examples. And we’ve sought to understand and describe different standards of business response as either:
In so doing, we’ve built up an incredibly valuable, constantly evolving, open-sourced set of performance benchmarks.
By benchmarking in this way, across their selected priority responsibility issues, we help businesses to discover the pathways open to them to achieve better social and environmental practices and outcomes.
Emerging Patterns Across the Issues
Each benchmark identifies and defines different levels of performance as either POOR, OKAY, GOOD or EXCELLENT. A general statement describes those four performance levels in summary. Under each statement, examples of the sorts of policies and practices businesses are observed pursuing are listed, usually broken down into categories, e.g. Policies & Procedures; Target Setting, Measurement & Reporting; Leadership, Advocacy & Culture. Some such lists include 50 or more examples. The complete benchmarks are shared with those organisations which, through offering answers to our question sets, help to shape and improve the benchmarks on an ongoing basis.
Irrespective of the issue, and bearing in mind just how varied the 20 we currently explore are – e.g. causes and campaigns, waste, inequality, executive pay, rights of indigenous peoples, customer complaints and cyber security are all utterly different – there are common themes between the four performance standard we apply. The below gives a flavor of these common threads we observe, with POOR invariably being the most varied standard.
- EXCELLENT – The issue is of fundamental importance to the business, and likely to be relevant to its raison d’être and purpose as an organisation. The business is keenly focused on implementing the maximum number of positive impact practices and activities, and minimising the number of negative impact practices. It is likely net-positive in its overall impacts. It measures, sets targets, monitors and reports on progress, or lack of it. Performing better than peers or comparable businesses is important. Excellence on the issue is relevant to, and tied to, overall business strategy. The business communicates the importance of the issue to other stakeholders, using multiple marcoms channels to do so. It demonstrates a holistic approach seeking support and contribution to best practices from third parties up and down its value chains. The business campaigns on the issue. It promotes best practices in as many ways as possible.
- GOOD – The issue is important to the business and it pursues a number of best practices. It demonstrates a considered and joined up approach adopting as many positive impact practices, and ceasing any negative impact practices as far and wide as possible, but likely under some limits or constraints, which it is open about and explains. It is likely net-neutral in its overall impacts. The business regularly communicates the importance of the issue to other stakeholders. It is likely to do some work on measurement, target setting, monitoring and reporting on progress.
- OKAY – The business recognises that the issue is important and may pursue a number of best or laudable practices, but only on an ad hoc basis. Further, while the business may do some things to positively impact the issue, it is still doing things which result in negative impacts. It is likely net-negative in its overall impacts but open and honest about this, and evaluating and ideally pursuing policies and practices to improve. The business makes some attempts to alleviate, mitigate or remediate its negative impacts. The business would like to make the issue a higher priority but is unable to due to barriers to improvement such as cost and budget considerations and opportunity costs. The business is open about the importance of the issue to society and/or the environment and uses its influence to encourage openness, debate and the adoption of better and bests practices generally. OR the business explains how the issue is neither relevant nor material to its operations and outside of all its spheres of influence.
- POOR – The business is certainly net-negative in its overall impacts yet has no plans to change. The business makes no attempt to alleviate, mitigate nor remediate its negative impacts. The company’s underlying business model may rely on continued net-negative practices, which in turn may depend on refusing to accept responsibility for what it does or demonstrate any honesty, transparency or accountability on the issue. The business may ignore credible evidence regarding the negative impacts of its activities and practices. The business is neither open nor honest about the importance of the issue to society and/or the environment. The business may use its influence to encourage poor practices generally. It may sponsor and champion denial and other ways to cast doubt on received scientific knowledge, received wisdoms and best practices. OR the business is net-negative in its overall impacts through accident, oversight, misfortune or bad luck, and/or despite its best efforts not to be, but admits this and takes full responsibility for implementing improvements as soon as possible, and will be open, honest and accountable in regards to how it fares on an ongoing basis.