Retailers have entered a new age of corporate citizenship in which not only working conditions but environmental impacts of production and products are playing a large role on reputation, according to (PDF) Covalence’s EthicalQuote ranking calculated for 27 companies in the Retail industry.
Campaigns, issues and expectations around working conditions in supply chains have pushed retailers to demonstrate responsible behaviors, but in 2008, retailers have been mostly active on environmental criteria -giving indirect responses to labor challenges.
Environmental impact of production and waste management were the top criteria (including issues such as: climate change, packaging, waste management and recycling, energy/efficiency, renewables, carbon emissions, light bulbs, plastic bags, bottles, supply chain management, paper and green buildings.
As observed in other industries, companies that are doing the most are generally the ones that have been particularly criticized in the past – the largest ones.
A year ago, Wal-Mart was last in Covalence’s EthicalQuote ranking calculated for 27 companies in the retail industry. It has jumped up to the third rank, behind Marks & Spencer and Home Depot, showing the best progression over last year.
In the meantime, smaller, less exposed companies are not doing as much in terms of CSR. Some may be sleeping on their laurels, others may just be feeling they don’t need to repair their image as it isn’t broken.
But demands against larger companies haven’t slowed. Walt-Mart remains, by far, the most criticized retailer, getting 48% of negative news naming retailers. An astonishing number of positive news that allowed Wal-Mart to present a strong progression in 2007-2008.
The table below shows the underlying figures that make the EthicalQuote. The EthicalQuote is obtained by cumulating positive news (offers, +1) and negative news (demands, -1), it is an absolute measure of reputation. The Rate is the ratio EthicalQuote / Volume of information, it gives a relative measure of reputation.