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Examining the Merits of Sustainability Ranking Lists

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Title: Examining the Merits of Sustainability Ranking Lists
Author: Patara, Saveena
Abstract: Sustainability reporting tools (SRTs) are designed to provide stakeholders with trustworthy and credible information on a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance. However, the sustainability narrative is met with several impediments that largely stem from a lack of standardization, transparency, and consistency, which in turn poses challenges for measuring and reporting sustainability efforts. This study examines the merits of one particular SRT, sustainability ranking lists. This was achieved by analyzing the methodologies of three publicly disclosed ranking lists, to identify common themes, as well as to explore the strengths, shortcomings, and gaps. The findings suggest that while the overarching purpose and approach are similar in nature, there is a lack of standardization for 1) collecting and reporting on data; 2) identifying and selecting categories to evaluate; and 3) how the categories are weighted and scored to determine a company’s rank. The results also uncovered several other limitations such as the presence of controversial industries, lack of inclusivity, and striking discrepancies in the results among the three ranking lists, all of which contributes to, and perpetuates the confusion within the sustainability discourse rather than abate it. The study advances the SRT literature by highlighting opportunities for improving ranking list methodologies, as well as CSR strategies.
Date: 2018
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