Frequently Asked Questions

These are the questions most frequently asked. If you have a question not yet answered here, please get in touch.

Is joining Responsible 100 the same as doing CSR?

No. Responsible 100 started as a response to big banks and big oil companies "doing CSR". That is, publishing glossy brochures explaining how responsible they were, how they were 'on our side', part of the solution, values driven etc.

Thousands of businesses do CSR reporting, still, perhaps largely for a lack of other obvious alternatives as to how to demonstrate that they are aware of certain social and environmental challenges and risks. The breadth and depth of these reports has generally improved over the years. However, they still look and feel like a commentary on how, despite it all, the company is managing to carry on with "business as usual".

They are still highly selective. Invariably they are written largely or entirely by third parties. They are still a poor use of time, effort and resource to produce in that practically no one reads them. And when held up to the man or woman in the street, they prompt disbelief and derision. And worse: cynicism and apathy. For many, they are proof that businesses say one thing, but do another. That all they care about is protecting their image, to offset reputational risk, to carry on making money at the expense of people and planet. And this is so damaging because it leads to the conclusion that all businesses are the same, and there is no point trying to identify and support the good ones because none exist.

Our view is that good businesses really do exist. And by identifying and rewarding them for being responsible, they will prosper. When being (more) responsible is a winning strategy, businesses will be able to increase their efforts and commitments, and they'll encourage others to follow suit.

Many years ago, we worked out that on any given issue, a business's performance was POOR, OKAY, GOOD or EXCELLENT. And that those businesses which wanted to work out which 10 or 20 or 30 responsibility issues were most important to them, and how they fared on each against these simple scales, were special businesses. We then helped them use these results to direct their precious resources into improving. We help businesses to get from POOR to OKAY, and where feasible and appropriate, from OKAY to GOOD or EXCELLENT. We believe that this is a more logical, rational, efficient and effective use of resources than 'doing CSR'.

Beyond this, we believe the majority of the businesses we have worked share special characteristics which will lend to the creation of an exciting brand, mission and movement. We welcome people and organisations that wish to join and shape Responsible 100 and discover just how far we can take it.

What are Responsible 100's Key Services

Our scorecard development work feeds into and out of the following key activities and services we provide to organisations:

MATERIALITY & GAP ASSESSMENT We offer a simple and effective materiality analysis across a wide range of key social, environmental and ethical issues. We help any organisation to identify which issues matter most. We enable businesses to see where they have missed something important, and whether they are worrying about any issue which really has little bearing on what they do.
PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT With a clear understanding of the issues which are relevant, we then determine how well a client currently performs. We determine current performance as either POOR, OKAY, GOOD or EXCELLENT across all relevant issues. Overall results are converted into a score out of 100 to reveal how a business measures up, how it compares to its peers, and where improvements can be made.
IMPROVEMENT PLANS We next factor in the time and resources a client has available, what its own goals and priorities are, and where it is possible to make the changes which result in the greatest positive impact. We provide a tailored improvement plan with clear and achievable milestones.
PEER REVIEW ROUNDTABLES To better understand a responsibility issue, we provide roundtable meeting forums to workshop current policies and practices with “critical friends”. Our roundtables bring together business practitioners, trade bodies, campaigners, NGOs, academics, investors and government. Roundtables are exceptional opportunities to explore problems and solutions, speed of change and likely trajectory for emerging issues, and to share, learn and network, in a safe space, with people who are passionate about making a difference.
CONSULTANCY We offer consultancy and support for adoption and integration of improved policies and practices. Having helped to diagnose problems and areas of underperformance, and the appropriate solutions, our experts help clients to plan and deliver the required changes.
REPORTING & COMMUNICATING We help R100 organisations to effectively communicate the things they are doing well, and the areas in which they are improving. We do this across all communications and marketing channels as part of an integrated and managed campaign, or on an occasional or ad hoc bases, according to client requirements.
DEAL BROKERAGE Change is hard, especially in large and complex organisations. Sometimes the optimal deployment of resources to pursue the responsibility-as-a-driver-of-profitability mission is in providing support to smaller, nimbler businesses developing high potential ideas and technologies. R100 works with investors and corporate sponsors to support impact start ups and scale ups through venturing, incubating and accelerating delivered with a range of world class partners.
DIFFERENTIATION If we are to ever fix the world’s problems, we need the businesses pursuing commercial success in ways which positively impact people and planet to be the most successful. Support for R100 differentiates businesses and organisations which are unequivocal about the inadequacy of business as usual, and are unequivocal about helping to create and participate in a progressive capitalism.

Does Responsible 100 have a manifesto?

Our mission is to make responsibility drive profitability, and see irresponsibility diminish it, and support all businesses that wish to help create and participate in a better economic system.

The following is a manifesto of sorts, although the extent to which people and organisations that wish to be part of Responsible 100 should sign up or commit to it has yet to be determined.

  1. We believe huge global problems do exist and that they demand urgent action - there really is a climate crisis and crises of biodiversity loss, poverty, inequality, human rights abuse, etc
  2. We accept that "business as usual" cannot continue, and that seeking profit where costs are offloaded onto society or the environment or where people are exploited must be discontinued
  3. We are committed to seeking and adopting adequate changes and remedies, we are committed to transitioning to and being part of a sustainable, equitable economy
  4. We will constantly seek improvements in our own policies and practices, and we commit to increasing the positive impacts we have on people and planet, and to decreasing our negative impacts, in how we operate
  5. We will support the impact economy, and those organisations creating new products, services and innovations which address social and environmental problems
  6. We will pursue #3, #4 and #5 as far, wide and fast as possible
  7. These commitments are made and owned at board level, and are evidenced across all levels of our organisation
  8. We seek commercial and financial benefits from these commitments because, without them, a 'race to the top' in business won't materialise, 'business as usual' + 'doing CSR or purpose' will persist, a better economic system won't materialise, and our opportunity to avoid climate catastrophe will be lost.

We welcome all and any feedback in respect of the above that you are minded to share.

Who is behind Responsible 100?

Responsible 100 is delivered by Profit Through Ethics Ltd, the London based, for-profit, social business that devised and developed the concept and platform. The development of Responsible 100 will require the development of the businesses and/or organisations and/or partnerships that can drive it forward. As such, PTE Ltd is always exploring ideas and strategies which can drive growth and progress.

What is Responsible 100's theory of change?

A number of years ago, it dawned on us that it didn't really matter WHAT motivated a business to pursue social, environmental and ethical best practices. What was really important was simply that businesses WERE responsible, and pursued best responsibility practices to the fullest possible extent.

Then it became apparent that, given the pursuit of profit is the single most powerful driver of the decisions and actions in 99%+ of businesses around the world, making real responsibility a driver of commercial success and greater profitability would have profound effects.

This now is Responsible 100's mission.

The following questions are taken from a basic Theory of Change canvas by Nesta:

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

  • Responsible best practices too often do not directly increase business profitability. Irresponsible practice is too often the profit maximising option.

Who is your key audience?

  • Businesses, and the people who work in and lead them, and the people who buy their products and services, and the people who provide finance and investment, and the people who seek to hold them to account.

What is your entry point to reaching your audience?

  • The Responsible 100 website. In the future there will be new entry points, as provided by a consumer app, and a strong brand and kitemark etc.

What steps are needed to bring about change?

  • We want to set the expectation that if any company CAN start a transition to be part a fair, sustainable, low carbon future, then it SHOULD. That is a first step, but an important one. Beyond this, there are a series of small, achievable steps. We want to get our tools more widely used and develop and improve them ASAP. We wish to progress relationships and activities with all six of our target audiences.

What is the measurable effect of your work?

  • Patronage. Getting new people and orgs on board. Giving them value, keeping them on board, and doing more and more cool things as we grow.

What are the wider benefits of your work?

  • Changing expectations as to the role of business, and the potential business has to help everyone live better lives in a better world.

What is the long-term change you see as your goal?

  • Aligning responsibility and profitability. Creating a race to the top in business.

What is 'net positive'?

Businesses that put back more than they take out are 'net positive'.

Businesses have impacts on the environment and society. Some are negative, some positive and some neutral. For a company to be net positive, positive impacts need to outweigh negative ones. Or to put it another way: the environment and society should be better off with the existence of these businesses than they would be without them.

Fine out more about 'net positive' via this BSR website.

What is a race to the top, and a race to the bottom?

A "race to the bottom" in business is where competing businesses are acting increasingly irresponsibly in order to maintain market share.

There is tremendous pressure to compete in a race to the bottom in many markets because of the convergence of the following factors. First, it is often legal and/or common practice to offload costs onto the environment, for example by depleting or downgrading precious natural resources such as soil and water or by emitting greenhouse gases. Second, it is often legal and/or common practice to offload costs onto society, for example by forcing vulnerable employees onto zero hour contracts or going to extraordinary lengths to prevent governments from collecting fair tax revenue. Third, it is not only legal or customary but often the fastest, surest way to profit to offload costs onto the environment and exploit stakeholders in these ways. Fourth, less scrupulous competitors are always ready to step in and steal market share from firms that are reticent to operate in these ways.

Responsible 100 thinks it is possible to create the conditions where businesses instead compete in a "race to the top".

That is, where businesses compete not just on the price and quality of their goods and services, but also in respect of how much good they can do for people and planet in the course operating and creating and delivering those goods and services to market.

The EXCELLENT sections of the Responsible 100 scorecards, which use a POOR, OKAY, GOOD, EXCELLENT scale, detail hundreds of different policies and practices in which businesses have adopted and continue to pursue that are effective and efficient from a business perspective, but also result in good and positive impacts and effects on their stakeholders and the environment. For example, thousands of businesses are managing to reduce and even entirely eradicate waste and pollution from their operations. Others have successfully eradicated human rights abuses from their supply chain, others have benefit disadvantaged groups through their relations and interactions with local communities, and/or in hiring employees from disadvantaged backgrounds.

What is a Responsible 100 scorecard?

A Responsible 100 scorecard is a written document or record that describes different types of business policy and practice. To date, scorecards have been written on more than 50 different social, environmental, ethical and governance issues which affect business and wider society.

To date, scorecards have been written to explore more than 50 separate social, environmental, ethical and governance issues (see the "Which social, environmental and ethical issues are there currently scorecards for?" FAQ below for the full list) which affect business and wider society. They seek to categorise all the policies and practices described by businesses and organisations in the information they submit to Responsible 100, as well as those observed in the wider world.

The creation and development of scorecards underpin our work. We compile and update records of POOR, OKAY, GOOD and EXCELLENT practices, issue by issue, on an ongoing basis. We seek to understand all responsibility issues according to this simple POOR, OKAY, GOOD, EXCELLENT scale, using these descriptive words in their normal, everyday sense.

The key purpose of every Responsible 100 scorecard is to understand and describe what good and best practices look like, and if and how businesses can adopt them. (And what poor practices look like, and how to avoid them!)

The more that a scorecard is used or tested in the real world, the better informed and better evidenced it becomes, and thus the more useful it is. We create relative scales on each issue that we explore and we constantly assess the boundaries between POOR and OKAY, and between OKAY and GOOD, and between GOOD and EXCELLENT.

Numerical scores of 10, 40, 70 or 100 are assigned to POOR, OKAY, GOOD and EXCELLENT accordingly. See the "How are Responsible 100 scores calculated for each business?" FAQ below for more.

What are Responsible 100 roundtables?

Responsible 100 roundtables bring together a diverse group of individuals - including business practitioners, trade bodies, campaigners and NGOs, academics and government - for frank, constructive dialogue on the responsibility issues affecting business and wider society.

They provide the deepest dive on any given responsibility issue. They are unique forums in which to workshop current policies and practices with 'critical friends'. Our roundtables are exceptional opportunities to explore problems and solutions with people who are passionate about making a difference.

Under the Chatham House rule, roundtable participants discuss and debate a chosen social, environmental, ethical or governance issue. Roundtables provide the opportunity for organisations to discuss latest best practices and latest thinking, innovations, likely directions of travel, and more.

There is a strong focus on collaboration and working together to reach a consensus as to good, better and best practices on the issue under examination.

The benefits of the roundtables include:

  • Learning from experts and practitioners from NGOs, academia, business and beyond
  • Sharing knowledge and views as to latest thinking, expertise and developments
  • Networking with peers, experts and practitioners
  • Being appraised on how well your organisation performs and receiving suggestions for improvements
  • Contributing to a deeper understanding as to good, better and best practices on any given issue
  • Generating new ideas and innovations, and practical changes that you can make in your business to improve

This blog on the Legal & General website provides an excellent business perspective.

Which social, environmental and ethical issues are there currently scorecards for?

The 8 categories and 57 issues Responsible 100 currently explores are as follows:

Community

  1. Supporting local economies
  2. Reducing social exclusion
  3. Supporting education locally
  4. Community groups & causes
  5. Impact on the local community

Environment

  1. Reducing GHG emissions
  2. Transition to low carbon economy
  3. Water use & water stewardship
  4. Circular economy
  5. Managing waste
  6. Sustainable transport
  7. Greening the supply chain
  8. Endangered species & habitats

Ethical Choices

  1. Testing on animals
  2. Lobbying & influence
  3. Promoting Fair Trade principles
  4. Sharing economy
  5. Charitable giving
  6. Reducing inequality
  7. Delivering the SDGs
  8. Controversial weapons
  9. Social & eco certifications
  10. Genetically modified organisms

Finance and Governance

  1. Tax transparency
  2. Whistleblowing
  3. Board effectiveness
  4. Corporate culture
  5. Reporting cycles
  6. Executive pay
  7. Bribery & corruption
  8. Governance systems
  9. Corporate complexity

Human Rights

  1. Modern slavery
  2. Trading with oppressive regimes
  3. Rights of indigenous peoples
  4. Operating in conflict areas

Marketplace Ethics

  1. Customer complaints & redress
  2. Product & service information
  3. Unfair & deceptive practices
  4. Responsible advertising
  5. Marketing to vulnerable groups
  6. Placing advertisements responsibly

Technology

  1. Data responsibility
  2. Cyber security
  3. Responsible technology
  4. Open & free internet
  5. Responsible AI
  6. Green ICT

Workforce

  1. Work-life balance
  2. Employees who are carers
  3. Employee mental health & wellbeing
  4. Employee representation
  5. Living wage
  6. Diversity in the workplace
  7. Employee engagement
  8. Health & safety
  9. Building human capital

How are Responsible 100 scores calculated for each business?

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
EXCELLENT (100)
GOOD (70)
OKAY (40)
POOR (10)
Cumulative score 240 260 170
Questions answered 3 5 2
Average score 80 52 85

Are businesses required to publish their scores or answers?

While businesses are not obliged to publish their answers, some choose to do so on the Responsible 100 website. Currently, a company account is required in order to view the answers other businesses have published.

Many businesses prefer 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.

Responsible 100 is planning changes to its website and to the options that businesses have for publishing their information.

What if an issue isn't material to a business or organisation?

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

How do businesses improve their scores?

The only sure fire way for a business to attain a greater cumulative score is for it to improve its responsibility practices or to assess itself against new scorecards (i.e. publish responses to additional questions). See the "What is the Responsible 100 score and how is it calculated?" FAQ above for more details on our scores and scoring.

Is there a rule of thumb for determining POOR, OKAY, GOOD and EXCELLENT performance?

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 57 roundtable meetings including almost 550 different participating organisations (as at 1 September 2019), 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
SCORE GENERAL BEHAVIOURS
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

What is Responsible 100 working on now, and what will it be working on next?

  • Differentiation to businesses and organisations that support Responsible 100 and its simple, bold mission

  • A unique suite of tools and services to help any business better understand the responsibility issues it faces, how it performs, and how to improve

  • A variety of ways to enable larger businesses to support the incubating, venturing and accelerating of impact start-up and scale-up businesses. We vet and appraise impact startups, promote them, and match them with the angel investors and corporate investors and supporters they need to realise their ambitious technologies and solutions.

  • Comms support to businesses to effectively and appropriately communicate the challenges they face, how they respond, and the progress they make

We believe PEOPLE POWER, and BUYING POWER in particular, will be the single biggest catalyst to change.

So we are working on:

  • A series of Responsible 100 Top 100 Most Responsible Business lists

  • Consumer switching tools to help people identify and buy from the most responsible businesses, delivered via a smartphone app and via shopping portal plugins