Most people, though they may broadly support many of the issues, will have
some areas of particular concern. Because of this we aim to provide information
in a way which enables people to make decisions based on their own priorities.
Breaking the information down into clear categories is one way we do this.
Another way is via the Customise Scores feature of the database.
How is Corporate Critic compiled?
Corporate Critic is compiled primarily from information already in the public
domain. Our team of researchers regularly search through over 80 publications
and summarise information on corporate activity into easy-to-read
abstracts or 'stories'. Information on companies is taken from
- publications by environmental, animal rights and Third World campaigning
NGOs such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Amnesty, WDM etc.
- corporate communications such as Annual Reports and company websites.
- commercial defence and nuclear industry directories
- pollution and health & safety prosecution records
- a wide range of other international sources
We also request information directly from companies on issues such as environmental
reporting, animal testing policy and codes of conduct.
Each abstract is fully referenced to a particular publication, permitting
users to explore and follow up stories in more detail. Our reseachers in Manchester
add new stories to the database on a daily basis. These are uploaded onto
Corporate Critic and scores recalculated nightly. Because of the ongoing nature
of this behaviour-monitoring process, we do not systematically check each
story or rating with companies prior to publication. Many of the ratings or
stories will have been published before in Ethical Consumer magazine. We encourage
companies to contact us if they believe a story or rating is in error and
we will always address the issues raised.
Most corporate responsibility rating organisations 'rate' company groups as
single organisations. Corporate Critic database is therefore structured to
map complex company groups. This means that extracts on specific companies
generally appear with ownership information.
For example, British Sugar is owned by a holding company called Wittington Investments.
It is important to note that the ethical ratings represent those of the company
group as a whole, so where British Sugar is rated, the ratings refer not just
to British Sugar but to Wittington and/or other companies owned by Wittington
Investments. The exception to this is under the "Environmental Reporting"
and "Code of Conduct" categories, where ratings can refer to the specific
subsidiary's environmental report or code of conduct if this is better. When
one company buys another, the new company is deemed to have inherited the past
record of the other, unless there is clear evidence that the take-over has seen
a change in policy and practice.
Significant effort is made with Corporate Critic to maintain the integrity
and accuracy of information. Each company is assigned to its UHC (Ultimate
Holding Company) but frequent global mergers, takeovers and acquisitions mean
that company group information can be of an advisory nature only. Therefore,
if a particular piece of information is to play a significant role in a campaigning
or investment decision, we recommend making additional ownership checks.
Of course, accurate ownership information is of the utmost importance to us
at ECRA, and we make every effort to monitor significant changes. If you discover
information which you believe is incorrect, please contact us and we can make
changes within 24 hours if necessary.
About the ethiscore
The ethiscore is a numerical ethical rating designed to help users
quickly differentiate companies which have attracted significant levels of
criticism from those which have attracted less attention. The un-customised
ethiscore rates all the categories equally, and we fully expect subscribers
to use the Customise Scores area of Corporate Critic to generate ratings which
best reflect their own organisational priorities.
Although Corporate Critic holds data going back to 1991, all ratings and ethiscores
are based only on information published in the last five years. Detailed information
on how we rate companies in each category appears on the Category
page of this website.
The are two types of ethiscore present in the Corporate Critic database:
A company ethiscore of 0 to 15 points.
15 is best and 0 worst. This is the main type of ethiscore which appears throughout
The company ethiscore is based on the subtraction of all the corporate responsibility
categories in which the database holds current criticisms from a baseline
number. Therefore if a company has received criticisms in the Animal Testing
(1 point) and Workers Rights (1point) categories, its ethiscore will be 12.
[14 (baseline) minus 2 categories = 12] If the company had a lesser criticism
under, say, Workers Rights (0.5 points) then its ethiscore would be 14 minus
1.5 = 12.5
The fifteenth point is for 'Company Sustainability' - a positive Corporate
Responsibility category - which gives an additional point to companies who,
for example, only sell organic products.
A product ethiscore of 0 to 20 points.
20 is best and 0 worst.
This ethiscore is a score for products and is made up by combining a company
ethiscore with a rating for product sustainability, and is based on five positive
attributes which a product may have. Therefore if a 12 point company is listed
as selling an organic (1 point) and fairtrade (1 point) tea, then the tea
would receive an ethiscore of 12+2 = 14.
The product ethiscore only currently appears in Detailed Product Tables and
will be a particular feature of later versions of Corporate Critic (see Work
A new feature of Corporate Critic database from January 24th 2005 is that
it contains information designed to help you identify sustainable products
in selected markets.
Markets currently containing systematically collected product sustainability
scoring data include:
Fridges (Consumer Product Manufacturers, Domestic Appliances)
Fridge Freezers (Consumer Product Manufacturers, Domestic Appliances)
Freezers (Consumer Product Manufacturers, Domestic Appliances)
Computers (Computer Hardware)
Printers (Computer Hardware)
Mobile Phones (Telecommunications Services & Equipment)
Green Electricity Tariffs (Energy & Utilities, Electricity)
By using the Customise Scores area of the database you can build rating tables
which only contain product sustainability data or you can combine them
with a few corporate responsibility issues from the list. This may be attractive
to organisations like public authorities which are circumscribed in the criteria
they can apply to purchasing decisions.
The five product sustainability criteria we currently use are: Fair Trade
[F], Organic [O], Positive Environmental Features [E], Ethical Consumer magazine
Best Buy [B], Other Sustainability Features [S]. Any product with positive
sustainability characteristics within these definitions will have one or more
of these five suffixes after the product name [F,O, E, B, S] on the database
(e.g. Electrolux Fridges [E]).
Product sustainability data is best located in the Browse Markets view, where
each sub-sector with sustainability data will have a link just below the title
View Detailed Scores Table. A star in a product sustainability column will:
(a) increase the product ethiscore
(b) correspond to a story (and publication) explaining the reason for the
star rating, and detailing any specific models to which the rating applies.
In some cases, such as Organic or FairTrade, it will rarely be necessary to
view a story because the product will be clearly labelled at the point of
sale. In other cases, the story may contain useful detail about the products
or models to which the positive rating applies, as the following story illustrates.
Date: January 2005
Company: Haier Group
Story: Fridges EU A+ energy ratings
Category: Positive Environmental Features
Primary Reference: Ethical Consumer: 92 (Jan/Feb 2005) (25 November 2004)
Ethical Consumer magazine of January 2005 reported that the following Haier
fridge models had an A+ or A++ energy rating and were HFC free: HR-176KAAA
To view a story from a Score Table, use the back button to view the market
(sub sector) list. Click on the product name you wish the follow up, and then
on Stories in the Product Information Page, and then choose View Abstracts.
Developing our product sustainability ratings
The product sustainability ratings are designed to help institutional purchasers
identify sustainable products according to criteria systematically applied
across a market. We are seeking to expand this area of our work in 2005 and
area actively looking for partners to help move this area of our work forward.
Verified and unverified scores
Ethiscores in brackets (12) are computer generated ethiscores which are calculated
from data entered as part of the Corporate Critic press monitoring function,
and data entered in the process of previous research for reports in Ethical
Consumer magazine. For computer generated companies, the absence of a mark
in a particular column does not necessarily mean that a company has no involvement
in that area. It simply means that no evidence has yet come to our attention
that it does.
Ethiscores without brackets are 'Researcher Verified' ethiscores which are based
on systematic annual information gathering on the company in question. 'Researcher
Verified' ethiscores, which tend to be lower scoring, are best compared with
other researcher verified scores. Only 'Researcher Verified' ethiscores are
used to compile rating tables.
Our work program for 2005 plans to substantially increase the number of Researcher
Verified ethiscores on the database. If it is important for you to have a
particular company 'Researcher Verified', please contact our research team to
enquire whether the company in question is already part of the plan.
Work in progress
Although Corporate Critic has been collating abstracts critical of
company behaviour since 1991, many new elements have been brought to the project
in 2004. These include the ethiscore, markets, turnover, and product sustainability
categories. At the time of launch (January 24th 2005), work on a number of
these areas was still ongoing, and many gaps were still apparent.
Our work on markets and product sustainability is planned to have been
substantially completed by April 2005, by which time 50 Scores Tables will
have been completed for a range of key products.