A vision for making corporate benchmarks open and accessible to all
Finding ways to measure and rank corporate performance is key to contextualising data about how companies impact our society and our planet. As public interest in corporate impacts has grown over the past ten years, there has been an accompanying uptick in new corporate benchmarks. The approach to transparency amongst benchmarking organisations has, however, developed unevenly, with some benchmarks only disclosing their high level scores while others put their full datasets and methodologies into the public domain.
Recent additions to the benchmarking sphere that have adopted a more open approach include the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, the Fashion Transparency Index and the RDR Corporate Accountability Index. And in 2018 the World Benchmarking Alliance was launched — an organisation developing benchmarks to rank company performance on the Sustainable Development Goals.
These benchmarks have brought a wealth of analysis on corporate social and environmental performance into the public domain, but also questions about how we can compare company scores across benchmarks and better contextualise the scores that companies are given.
Benchmarks on WikiRate
At WikiRate, we focus on making corporate data accessible and comparable through our open data platform. One of our long-term goals has been to create an open data system through which benchmarks, their scoring mechanisms, data and sources can be made truly open to the public. Creating such a system has been a complex process. Each benchmark is singular, using a different scoring system and methodology to rank companies. Some benchmarks may give companies a score out of 100, or 250. Others may score companies using letters or a starring system. To fully represent different benchmarks side-by-side, we had to set up a system to standardize how scores are visualized whilst ensuring we preserved the characteristics of each scoring mechanism.
Beyond the high-level scores are the different layers of indicators which feed into them. To build an open benchmarking system that the public could dig into, we needed to create layers of data and calculations which build into a final score. Our aim was that users could explore these building blocks layer-by-layer — able to see where a company’s score came from, how it was calculated and explore the sources of each data point.
The Fashion Transparency Index
The first large-scale implementation of WikiRate’s transparent benchmarking interface was launched in April this year with the Fashion Transparency Index. The Index ranks 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands according to how much they disclose about their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts. The creators of the Index, Fashion Revolution, were keen to make their benchmarking system and data more transparent, comparable and accessible to the public. We worked with their team to organize their data and methodology into our standardized data format, including building their scoring system on the WikiRate platform.
WikiRate enabled us to achieve a long standing goal of making the Fashion Transparency Index and its underlying data more accessible and comparable. We hope that by doing so we can enable third parties to use this information to increase corporate accountability and drive positive change.
— Ilishio Lovejoy, Policy and Research Manager at Fashion Revolution
The final product is the result of several months of discussion and feature development as we trialled our open benchmarking system for the first time. To reconcile the difficulties in comparing scoring across different benchmarks, we have created a WikiRating system which translates the scores to a 0–10 scale. This means if a company scores 150 out of the total 250 points in the Index, they would get a 6/10 on the WikiRate scale — or 60% of the available points.
Through the WikiRate system, a user can drill down through each of the Index’s indicators and see how the indicators are weighted to calculate the final Fashion Transparency Index score. In the recording below, you can see how a user can navigate through the data in the Index, layer-by-layer.
As more benchmarks come onto the platform, the public will be able to compare company scores across different benchmark methodologies. And, crucially, organisations will be able to amplify their advocacy efforts, and avoid duplicating work, by having a view on what data is already out there from benchmarking bodies. Moreover benchmark methodologies will remain accessible through the WikiRate platform, allowing organisations from different geographical and industry contexts to leverage the approaches for their own research and advocacy.
You can explore the full Fashion Transparency Index dataset, methodology and sources on WikiRate.org. To learn more about the impactful work of Fashion Revolution, and how the Fashion Transparency Index is used in their advocacy, check out their website.
Are you a benchmark provider who is interested in our open benchmarking system? To find out more about the program get in touch at email@example.com.