Ranking Fever

September 19, 2010

Ranking Fever

A friend of mine sent me the new list of the 1000 most sustainable companies in the world and a blogger’s write up of the ranking compiled for JustMeans by CRD Analytics. I agree that this is an amazingly important and rigorously researched list — The Global 1000 Sustainable Performance LeadersElaine Cohen, the CSR blogger,  calls it the “Gold Standard for assessing and ranking the overall sustainability performance of public Companies. She went on to report : “Diving deeper into the data shows that the economy delivering the highest number of sustainably performing companies is Japan (with 191 of the total G1000), followed by the USA (163) and Great Britain (144). Sector-wise, the metals and mining sector leads with 68 companies in the G1000, followed by chemical companies (63) and commercial banks (63). ”  Not what I would have guessed which makes the list even more interesting.
What also caught my attention, however, was her mention of  chronic list fatigue.  “The G1000 appears to be an appropriate solution to what has become ‘ranking-fatigue’ over the past few years. The multitude of rankings, ratings, lists and proud press releases, including the most recent DJSI 2010 pronouncements, which together show little or no correlation between the most sustainable corporate citizens in each list, not only confuses, but can positively mislead.”  I was glad she mentioned the fatigue issue which I believe I have remarked on as well.  We often get called about reputation rankings (which we call Scorecards and fall under our Scoreboxx offering) . We are often asked which one to believe and what is the difference between this one and another one and what is the most important. We also get asked for estimates on how long it takes to apply for a particular ranking.  Surprisingly, we have an idea.  As reputation scorecard experts, I would answer, “it depends.” It depends on the quality of the ranker and importantly, who did the rating — employees, investors, consumers, executives, industry peers, etc.  There are as many answers to what is important to a company as a reputation-builder as there are rankings. It would be great if there was just one ranking but there are many….in fact hundreds.

Just this week ,the Interbrand survey of top global brands was released. Over lunch last week, someone mentioned a survey that pitted non-Ivy league vs Ivy-league schools against each other according to employers.  State schools won out for the best candidates for entry level positions. Penn State performed best and the Ivies were put to shame. The reasons why are enunciated in the article. An interesting read.

The Fortune World’s Most Admired is probably on its way to companies in the next few weeks. Ranking fever arrives. Wondering if there is a cure.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

  • Eric McNulty
    Posted at 13:54h, 20 September Reply

    Perhaps the most vexing challenge of these various rankings is that they have the greatest potential exposure to and influence with those who have little understanding of the methodology and data sets with which the lists are composed. It takes a fair amount of expertise and tenacity to untangle each and figure out which has the greatest significance for any particular organization or application.Another hurdle that I encounter frequently is that “sustainability” has become easy shorthand for about 1,000 sub-threads of conversation. Some people care more about environmental impact than social justice and vice versa. Some focus on low impact sourcing while others obsess about end of life cycle issues. Valid viewpoints all but it makes it difficult to arrive at a single ranking that satisfies.

    • Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross
      Posted at 15:09h, 20 September Reply

      I could not agree more and am glad you added these points. It is nearly impossible to untangle. And sustainability is as big a catch word these days as “innovation.”I remember well when I met with the CEO of a large food manufacturer (household name) and we got on the subject of Fortune Most Admired. He said he always felt bad that they were not an admired company. When I told him that his company was not included because it was not among the 10 largest revenue-producing companies and for no other reason, I made his day. All I could think of was how this CEO had spent years wondering why they were not admired when they had a great reputation. Of course, if someone had read the methodology section in America’s Most Admired, they could have figured it out.

      Best, lgr

  • Nathaniel Kuman
    Posted at 23:07h, 12 October Reply

    28. Your function is genuine and factual. It is based on actual info and it shows you’ve done a great deal of study. I discover it very educational to some component.

    • Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross
      Posted at 01:02h, 13 October Reply

      Thanks. I have spent a good part of my career on reputation and rankings. lgr

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