Bringing Order to Sustainability Ratings
In a world where we are quick to avoid information lest we drown in it, sustainability ratings are one way for consumers, businesses, and non-profits to gauge anything from the sustainability metrics behind a kitchen gadget to a sprawling factory that is part of a supply chain several continents away (as in a place like Guangzhou, China, pictured). They can also raise awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) throughout the marketplace. The surge in sustainability ratings on one hand is welcome. We all have limited time and we want to make informed decisions. But the bevy of ratings also is confusing to all of us, and savvy companies can manipulate or twist the messages to appear to “do good” while actually in the least do worse or in extreme situations, do harm. In my view, these sustainability ratings are too frequently less about making a difference or providing unbiased information. Unfortunately, they are often about promoting an organization’s agenda, brand, or paying folks to attend conferences where they backslap and congratulate each other, but do little of substance. To that end, Marcy Murninghan discusses the launch of the Global Initiative For Sustainability Ratings (GISR), a joint effort of the Tellus Institute and Ceres. As the wise professor points out:
Like the proliferation of Hollywood award shows, market saturation of sustainability ratings fosters confusion, contradiction, and concealment—even burnout over “too much information”, both for reporting companies and those expected to absorb the information generated.GISR should bring some sanity to a movement that is well intentioned but currently too chaotic. As always, you should peruse through the rest of the Murninghan Post.