Frequently Asked Questions

No, Responsible 100 is not limited to just 100 participating firms. Hopefully, in time, many thousands will join. All businesses listed here gain a score out of 100, it is an indication of how responsible a company's practices are. 100 is the theoretical highest average score a business can achieve. This would require that all the policies and practices it describes in all the questions it answers are considered EXCELLENT, which is highly unlikely for any company that has answered more than 4 or 5 questions.

To gain a Responsible 100 score, a company must answer questions about its responsibility practices. Each answer is scored by identifying one of four levels of responsible business behaviour - POOR, OKAY, GOOD or EXCELLENT - and numerical scores of 10, 40, 70 or 100 are assigned accordingly. The average score, also the “Responsible 100 score”, is a company's cumulative score divided by the number of questions it has answered.

Here are a few illustrative examples:

Standard (Score) Business A Business B Business C
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5
GOOD (70)
OKAY (40)
POOR (10)
Cumulative score 240 260 170
Questions answered 3 5 2
Average score 80 52 85

Responsible 100's operation is funded by the fees businesses pay to participate. Fee information is set out here.

The Responsible 100 test is one of honesty, openness, and the willingness to explain. Businesses are not expected to be EXCELLENT or even GOOD in everything they do, they must simply be able to publicly justify what they do across their organisations.

The team at Responsible 100 supports and mentors any business in responding to the questionnaire. Businesses may do this simply to better understand how they are performing, there is no obligation on businesses to go on to publish their answers.

While businesses are not obliged to publish their answers, some choose to do so here on the Responsible 100 website.

Businesses may prefer, initially, only to share their responses with selected stakeholders, for example, employees or investors. However, most of the businesses which tackle the questionnaire soon come to realise that, while they may not be perfect (who is?), they have been responding to the various responsibility challenges they face in appropriate ways, they can justify and explain what they do, and therefore they have much to gain by sharing their answers with the public at large.

Currently, there is no minimum set of questions a business must answer. However, a specified number of questions will need to be answered as a minimum soon - perhaps five. Further, it is intended that to participate year on year, a business must answer more questions than in the previous year, achieve a higher score, or ideally both.

The extent to which an issue is material to a business is affected by a number of things. For example, the size and sector of a business, and the industry it operates in.

Where an issue is of low materiality to a business, then its performance is likely to be OKAY. I.e. it will say "this issue does not really affect us", and ideally explain why. Or it could be GOOD, for example if it explains something like "this issue does not really affect our own operations but it is one that significantly affects business and wider society, and so we make our position and views clear, and encourage best practices for those who can have influence or impact...".

As materiality increases, so too do expectations. The standards for GOOD and EXCELLENT will increase where materiality is higher. There is also the scope for limited or ad hoc responses to an important and material issue being below expectations, i.e. POOR.

Materiality to Business / Expected Performance
No / low materiality Some materiality Highly material
EXCELLENT (100) N/A Complies with pre-existing best practices comprehensively At the forefront of developing new-best practices. Business works to externally promote/highlight importance of issue
GOOD (70) Recognises importance of issue to other businesses, stakeholders and wider society and promotes or is supportive of best practices Recognises salience of issue. Where existing policies are not comprehensive, future intentions to improve are clearly stated Complies with pre-existing best practices comprehensively
OKAY (40) Recognises importance of issue to other businesses, stakeholders and wider society Some relevant policies and practices although adopted on an ad hoc basis Recognises salience of issue. Where existing policies are not comprehensive, future intentions to improve are clearly stated
POOR (10) N/A Doing less than the bare minimum Some relevant policies and practices although adopted on an ad hoc basis

Responsible 100 uses a simple performance scale. We create scorecards for all the responsibility issues that we look at which define and describe POOR, OKAY, GOOD and EXCELLENT policies and practices. These are standards we see evidenced in answers which businesses submit to the R100 questions, and elsewhere in the wider world.

We work hard to ensure the simplicity of the concepts of POOR, OKAY, GOOD and EXCELLENT are maintained and use the words in their normal, everyday ways. We believe that, on any given responsibility issue, it is or will be possible to identify POOR, OKAY, GOOD and EXCELLENT standards of performance.

We do not expect for there to be an even distribution under each standard, i.e. we do not think a quarter of businesses will be POOR, a quarter OKAY, a quarter GOOD and a quarter EXCELLENT on any given issue. On the contrary, an uneven distribution is expected. Performance levels are affected by a myriad of forces.

While we offer no rule of thumb, in the course of developing our tools and processes, and in particular having now convened 51 roundtable meetings including almost 500 different participating organisations (as at 1 April 2018), we have begun to see patterns across different scorecards emerge. The table below seeks to set out some of the things the are common to POOR, OKAY, GOOD and EXCELLENT standards of performance across a variety of different responsibility issues.

General patterns within the scorecards
Excellent (100) The issue is fundamental to the business and rigorous policies and practices are in place / it is a strategic issue for the business
  • The firm has an ambitious, rigorous policy in place and performance is monitored, measured and reported publicly, clearly and effectively
  • Performance matches claims, purported values, and public statements
  • Firm’s policies are continuously reviewed and evolve to reflect new standards
  • Awareness and compliance with the policy is widespread among staff, and there is a commitment to the issue from leadership
  • Commitment to the issue is integrated across the firm’s operations
  • The firm goes above and beyond the standards of various recognised frameworks and legislation
  • The firm champions the issue or best practices regarding the issue
  • The firm lobbies and campaigns for others to follow suit, or for practice/legislation to be improved
  • Tackling the issue or carrying out industry best practices are aligned with the purpose and strategy of the firm
  • There is a formal and robust stakeholder engagement process; firm takes into account stakeholder feedback in decision-making
Good (70) The business demonstrates a commitment to the issue and has clear practices in place
  • The firm has strong policies in place, and can usually be held accountable for them
  • Performance generally lives up to policies, but occasionally falls short
  • Performance is regularly monitored and measured against targets, and can be reported publicly
  • The commitment of the firm is demonstrated across most of its activities, products/services and policies
  • There is a commitment from the firm to improve upon its performance in this area and a clear roadmap to achieving this
  • The firm does not necessarily prioritise this problem, and in some cases, it allows the problem to persist to further some other aim (e.g. prioritises fairtrade over local sourcing)
  • The firm is actively responsive to feedback and public-facing debate, supporting, if not contributing to, progressive dialogue
  • Firm makes a demonstrable effort to disseminate and enforce these best practice policies across its workforce and stakeholders
  • The firm generally carries out policies and best practices, but is not a leader in its sector
  • Firm meets the standards of various recognised frameworks and legislation, and may exceed them
  • Where negative impacts are demonstrably unavoidable, various practices and policies are in place to mitigate these effects
  • The firm may be signed up to lobbying organisations, but it follows other firms, rather than influencing them
  • Firm adopts good practices on issues that are highly material to its operations. It also supports issues of low materiality
  • Firm often engages in dialogue with stakeholders. There is not yet a formal structure for engaging with stakeholders but there is a clear plan of action for this
Okay (40) Business supports efforts regarding the issue on an ad hoc basis / has some policies and practices but the issue is not a priority for the business OR issue is not relevant to the business
  • The importance of the issue is recognised and there is some effort to comply on an ad hoc basis, but measurement methods and monitoring need developing and require a more consistent application throughout the entire organisation
  • Firm has adopted policies which seek to address the social bad/problem, but those policies lack clear enforcement and/or monitoring
  • The adopted policies are stated in general, indefinite terms that cannot be measured
  • Firm cherry-picks which aspects of its social and environmental activities it should report
  • Recognises if there is a weak reporting system in place. Firm can demonstrate future strategies to improve the reporting system
  • Provides satisfactory explanation that issue is not relevant or applicable to the business
  • The firm commits to disseminating and enforcing best practice policies across its workforce and stakeholders. However, follow-through may be inconsistent or ineffectual
  • Firm complies with legal and regulatory requirements
  • Engages in some dialogue on the issue and displays a willingness to learn from better / best practices
  • The firm engages in lobbying of campaigning on an ad hoc basis, or devotes minimal effort, or undertakes this action in response to public pressure stakeholders
Poor (10) The business acknowledges performance below expectations / no evidence of policies or practices/ statement regarding the issue
  • The firm has adopted some practices that seek to address the issue, but these practices are very poor, ineffectual or fail to be monitored or measured
  • There are inadequate or no channels for the firm to be held accountable, either because the issue is not measured or reporting is not made publicly available
  • The firm fails to meet minimum standards or regulations
  • The policies and practices the firm pursues perpetuate the social or environmental harm
  • The company actively undermines its critics, lobbies the government or is engaged in PR activity to deny the problem exists (e.g. large oil companies denying climate change)
  • Firm does not engage with stakeholders nor is it responsive to their concerns

While the scores awarded and the scorecards used to assess businesses' answers are open for scrutiny and challenge by participating companies and the public at large, the only sure fire way for a business to attain a greater cumulative score is for it to improve its responsibility practices or to publish responses to additional questions.

Responsible 100 is delivered by Profit Through Ethics Ltd, the London based social business that devised and developed the concept and platform.