The Accountability Rating measures the extent to which companies have built practices into the way they do business and how well they manage their impact. It was first developed in 2004 by AccountAbility, a global nonprofit think tank, and Csrnetwork, an international corporate responsibility consultancy. Asset4, a Swiss data provider, works with these founding partners on the analysis of the final list. Companies earn a score in each of four categories, for a maximum of 100. The categories are:
  • Strategic intent. Has the business strategy been designed with consideration of relevant social and environmental trends and impacts?
  • Governance and management systems. Do senior executives and the advisory board consider stakeholder issues when setting strategy and formulating corporate policy?
  • Engagement. Does the company engage in dialogue with people who have an interest in, may be affected by, or may affect its business?
  • Operational performance. Is the company managing its most important social and environmental impacts?

The Accountability Rating examines the 100 largest companies in the Fortune Global 500. A team of analysts reviews all available information from these companies, including their annual reports, social and environmental reports, and websites (the cutoff date is July 15, 2008). The rating process uses a proprietary framework to ask 30 sector-specific and 145 generic questions about each company, supplemented by five overarching questions that relate the company's performance to its wider industry context.

AccountAbility, Csrnetwork, and Asset4 have clients, partners, and members among the companies surveyed. However, none of these relationships, nor any inducements, are taken into consideration during the rating process. For further information and a detailed description of the methodology, see www.accountabilityrating.com.

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