Design Principles

New benchmarks will be developed based on a set of predetermined design principles. These principles help us to ensure that each benchmark will be effective, recognizable and of high quality. The development of these design principles is an evolving process.

1. Industry or issue specific

Maintaining a strict industry or issue focus ensures that benchmarks offer meaningful guidance and comparison. The scope of a benchmark is either limited to peer companies within the same industry or to an issue that is material to a wide range of companies across different sectors.

2. Focus on contribution

Benchmarks clarify and assess the unique contributions that companies can make to achieving specific sustainable development outcomes.

3. Clear and complementary

Benchmarks build upon the work done by others and add value to existing initiatives and mechanisms.

4. Transparent

Our benchmarks are transparent about the methodology, development process and outcomes. It is vital that companies understand how and why they are measured in order to drive change and engage different parts of the business.

5. Iterative

Continuous improvement is an iterative process. The cyclical nature of the benchmarks provide companies with an incentive to improve and show progress and accountability over time.

6. Inclusion based on scope

Our benchmarks include all companies that fall within the scope. Companies that choose not to participate actively in the data collection phase are scored on the basis of publicly available information.

7. Independent and impartial

Sustainability issues are often highly politicized and the polarization of opinions is one of the undesirable side effects. Benchmarks can only play a pivotal role in bringing together stakeholders with divergent views if they are independent. A benchmark needs to be equally responsive to all stakeholders in order to remain impartial.

8. Relative comparison

Each benchmark is a relative ranking, comparing companies with each other rather than against an absolute, ideal state. The highest attainable scores do not necessarily reflect optimal industry behavior, but reflects the degree to which a company compares to best or leading practices in the industry.

9. Responsive

Societal expectations of the role of businesses evolve. Benchmarks respond by updating their methodologies with each successive iteration. Boundaries are set to ensure comparability of information across iterations.

10. Focus on responsibility

Benchmarks assess and compare the contributions of individual companies to advancing the SDGs. They build upon the notion that companies can and should demonstrate responsible business conduct. In a broad sense this means respecting human rights and respecting ecosystem boundaries that keep our planet livable.

11. Stakeholder consultation and expert review

The influence of benchmarks rest in their legitimacy and credibility. Methodologies are developed in cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders, including companies included in our benchmarks. A thorough review by a team of recognized experts is an integral part of the process.

Work in progress

The design principles are still under development.