Factory worker with hard hat

Are companies contributing to social transformation?

The first report on the Social Transformation of companies necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) makes it clear that there is still a long way to go.  

The study assesses the world's most influential companies on the social impact they generate in particular in three areas: human rights, decent work and ethical conduct.

After analysing the top 1000 companies out of a total of 2000 from 70 countries on five continents and accounting for a quarter of the world's Gross Domestic Product, the main conclusion is clear: the effort of the companies is in most cases low.

Among the conclusions most prominent it should be noted:

  • Only one company out of the 1000 companies assessed meets the 18 requirements defined by the WBA.
  • Only 1% scored more than 15 out of 20 points. Half of the companies scored disappointing (between 0 and 5 points).
Map of the 1000 companies analysed by the WBA

Human Rights and Decent Work, unfinished business

In terms of Human Rights 3 out of 4 companies 78% out of the 1,000 companies assessed obtained a score of "zero in the three human rights monitoring indicators (HRDD-Human Resources Due Diligence criteria). While 55% of companies publish a serious commitment to respect human rights, less than half of them demonstrate this through real evidence. It is one thing to state a commitment; it is another to deliver on that commitment with data and demonstrable evidence.

With regard to Decent Workonly the 4% of companies published specific targets or claimed that they were already paying workers a living wage. Only 4% of companies report having control over the number of hours worked and only 4% show that they identify pay inequalities, revealing pay differentials between men and women by employee category.

With regard to the Ethical Conduct Only 20% of companies publish a high-level approach to lobbying and 8% disclose their spending on lobbying and influence (lobbying policies). Similarly, no disclosure of their tax strategies was found for 75% of companies, while only 9% of companies disclose the amount of taxes paid by each jurisdiction in which the company is resident for tax purposes.

Corporate Social Impact Scorecards

Lack of public information of a social nature from companies

With regard to the information published by companies, the absence of meaningful information on social issues is striking. The most common score across the sample is 0 points out of 20.with 116 out of 1000 companies failing to meet any of the 18 indicators.

About the World Benchmarking Alliance

The World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) is an organisation not-for-profit based in the Netherlands founded in 2018 under the conviction that the contribution of the The private sector is critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. (SDGs) of the United Nations.

In order to assess the contribution of major companies to the achievement of the SDGs, the WBA's first consultation was launched in September 2017, coinciding with the 72nd UN General Assembly.

Over the past 5 years, WBA has positioned itself as an organisation that has internationally recognised; and, to date, has the support of various funding partners including governments, private foundations and other corporationsmore than 250 allied entities and a staff of 85 employees.

You can access the full report here.

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