3 principles for getting rankings right

If your company is challenged by public environmental ratings, such as the recent Newsweek Green Rankings, you are not alone. Or perhaps you are already a recognized sustainability leader, but can always do better. How might your company benefit from the recognition rankings bring, instead of being punished by it?

External rankings provide an incentive for companies -- and entire industries -- to measure and work towards impact reduction and cost savings. Public rankings also grab the attention of company executives, and can drive powerful enterprise-level conversations about environmental strategy and efficiency investment.

Here are three principles for getting rankings right: embrace transparency, know your impacts, and act on them.

Principle One: View transparency as an opportunity

Are you embracing transparency when it comes to energy and resource impacts, or are you sharing information on a need-to-know basis with your stakeholders? Perhaps only when there is something to celebrate?

Top performers take a proactive stance towards disclosure. For the Newsweek Green Rankings and other ratings systems, the very act of disclosure contributes 10 percent to the score. The Disclosure Score evaluates the adequacy, completeness and quality of company energy and sustainability data. It also rewards involvement in widely adopted reporting initiatives, such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Cultivate an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders and rankings/ratings programs. When compared with brand perception studies, the Green Rankings demonstrate that many companies are either missing an opportunity to share their achievements more transparently with their customers, or missing the mark when it comes to how their brand is perceived in comparison with how they are actually doing. Greater and more frequent transparency will help to right this equation and turn your energy and resource data into reputational value.