Rated Ranking: 2014 Newsweek Green Rankings

2014 Newsweek Green Rankings


It’s back: Newsweek’s Green Rankings 2014 was published yesterday after a one-year pause in which the methodology had been under a complete reconstruction. As it is considered as one (or maybe even the) most important ranking on environmental sustainability expectations were high. And the news is: the new Newsweek Green Rankings will not meet all of these high expectations.

While the new methodology was set up to provide more transparency, objectivity, better comparability etc. it contains a considerable flaw in one of its KPIs. Seven out of the eight KPIs, e.g. productivity scores for energy use, green house gas, water and waste look pretty reasonable. Data for these KPIs are gathered from publicly available sources and will meet the goal of being replicable by a third party.
But the highest weighted KPI – reputation, making 20 % of the overall results – is a spike in the KPIs set. This KPI covers not only environmental but also social and governance dimensions. It is not disclosed if or how these dimensions are weighed – while already the mix of these dimensions is critical as a company could have positive reputation in environmental terms while it is considered a social “ogre”. The data set for the reputation KPI is derived from published news and opinions such as electronic and printed news, websites e.g. of NGOs, blogs etc. in a mix of automated search and evaluation by analysts. In short: this KPI, provided by the Swiss-based company RepRisk, its methodology and its respective results are a black box conflicting the goal of the Green Rankings to become more transparent and objective. Apart from that, it is arguable if this approach could cover the aspect of reputation at all. One additional missing piece of information: In the new ranking companies are only scored against their industry group peers while the ranking is an aggregated list. It’s not disclosed how this is derived methodologically.

Newsweek’s Green Rankings is now provided by a well known player in the sustainability ranking business: Corporate Knights Capital, who is also compiling and publishing the “Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World“ ranking (see Rated Ranking here) every year at the WEF summit in Davos. Providing now two of the most relevant sustainability rankings worldwide, Corporate Knights has become an even more powerful player in the ranking business. Another result is monotony among indicators in two major sustainability rankings as half of the KPIs in the Green Rankings are similar to the (twelve) KPIs of the “Global 100” ranking.

Newsweek Green Rankings still covers the 500 largest US and the 500 largest publicly traded companies worldwide. As there is an overlap the total universe of corporations scrutinized sums up to 809 out of 23 industries.

With the new methodology comes a total new result list. The 2014 Top Green Company is Vivendi followed by Allergan (maker of Botox), Adobe and Kering a.k.a. as former PPR, owner of brands like Gucci, Brioni and Puma. Among the 2014 Top 20 there are only 4 companies that were among the top 100 in Newsweek’s 2012 ranking. Five companies were not even in the 2012 ranking at all. To sum up: New methodology, new companies in the top ranking but still the old issue of methodological inconsistencies.The results can be found on the Newsweek Website.

Relevance / Impact
– 13 points –
Added Value / Insights
– 9 points –

Trustworthiness / Intention
– 15 points –
– 11 points –

Aggregated points
– 48 (out of 60) –
Highly valuable ranking

Useful ranking with some flaws

Partially useful ranking with considerable flaws

< 30
Useless ranking

Reach of publication:

  • Global, e.g. North America, Europe and Asia (5 points)
  • Regional, e.g. Europe or North America (3 points)
  • Large national market: e.g. US, China, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Brazil (2 points)
  • Mid-sized or small market, e.g. Switzerland, Netherlands, Argentina, Singapore (1 point)

Ranking will be recognized by key stakeholders:

  • Opinion Leaders (Politicians, Professors; NGO’s) (2 points)
  • Business Advisory Board, C-Level Executives (CEO, CCO, CFO, CMO) (2 points)
  • High Potentials & Top Talents (employer market, students) (2 points)
  • Financial Market (2 points)
  • General Public (2 points)

Aggregated points: 13 (of max. 15)

Is the owner providing the ranking a credible and trustworthy organization?

  • Ranking owner has limited credibility and reputation. (1 point)
  • Ranking owner has fair credibility and reputation. (3 points)
  • Ranking owner has excellent credibility and reputation. (5 points)

What is the ranking owner’s intention to produce and disseminate the ranking?

  • Ranking is predominantly a tool to raise awareness for the owner with the possible intention to sell consultancy services. (1 point)
  • Ranking is partly a tool to raise awareness for the owner with the possible intention to sell consultancy services. (3 points)
  • Ranking is predominantly a tool to surface and share important insights on the subject surveyed. (5 points)

Is/Are the media outlet(s) where the ranking is published of high credibility and reputation?

  • Media outlet(s) has/have limited credibility and reputation. (1 point)
  • Media outlet(s) has/have fair credibility and reputation. (3 points)
  • Media outlet(s) has/have excellent credibility and reputation. (5 points)

Aggregated points: 15 (of max. 15)

Do the ranking results provide overall orientation where companies stand?

  • limited orientation only (1 point)
  • fair orientation provided (3 points)
  • very good orientation (5 points)

Is the Ranking published in the same format on a regular basis, e.g. annually, which allows to track developments and comparisons over time?

  • ranking is published for the first time (1 point)
  • ranking is published for the second time in the same format (3 points)
  • ranking is published for more than 3 times on a regular basis in the same format (5 points)

Comment: Continuous publishing of the Ranking was interrupted in 2013 and is now published with completely new methodology allowing no comparison to earlier results.

Do the ranking results provide added value and further insights on how companies are evaluated in in their industry, e.g. detailed ratings in various sub-dimensions of the overall result?

  • limited added value only (1 point)
  • fair amount of added value (3 points)
  • high amount of added value (5 points)

Comment: Interactive tables allow to rank and compare companies according to each of the defined KPIs or the respective rank within their industry.

Aggregated points: 9 (of max. 15)

Is the ranking based on a representative survey among key stakeholders or on a jury only?

  • Ranking is based on a jury’s opinion only. (1 point)
  • Ranking is based on a small survey or only on a limited group of stakeholders. (3 points)
  • Ranking is based on a robust and representative survey. (5 points)

Is the ranking methodology easy to understand and reasonable – even for non-statisticians?

  • Methodology not easy to understand and not reasonable. (1 point)
  • Methodology fairly good to understand and reasonable. (3 points)
  • Methodology very easy to understand and reasonable. (5 points)

Is the ranking methodology easy to access and transparent?

  • Methodology not easy to find and not sufficiently transparent. (1 point)
  • Methodology fairly good to find and of medium transparency. (3 points)
  • Methodology very easy to find and of high transparency. (5 points)

Comment: There is no consolidated description of methology. Considerable flaw in the definition of the reputation dimension.

Aggregated points: 11 (of max. 15)

Ranking category

  • Product / Service Brands
  • Company Brands
  • Corporate Reputation and Company Esteem
  • Social Responsibility, CSR & Sustainability, Ethical Business Practices
  • Innovation & Technology
  • Employer Attractiveness & Diversity
  • Leadership
  • Nations & Destinations
  • University & Other Institutions
  • Sports
  • Lifestyle
  • Social Media
  • Personal Branding & CEOs

Ranking statistics

  • Name of Ranking: 2014 Newsweek Green Rankings
  • Ranking managed/produced by institute/organization: Corporate Knights Capital
  • Ranking published by media outlet: Newsweek
  • Date of recent publication: June 5, 2014
  • Date of previous publication: October 22, 2012

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