I just came across the most recent benchmarking by The CRO, a popular magazine for Corporate Responsibility Officers. The editorial staff presents comparisons in ten different industries, five of which are available in this issue, with the other five due out next issue. Sub-rankings are provided for areas such as environment, climate change, and human rights.
But the results... how did they come up with these?! Bank of America is #1 in banking, perhaps because they've taken over their would-be competition? Wainwright Bank doesn't even make the list. Monsanto is #1 for chemicals and Dow is #2, though I seem to recall an awful lot of ongoing protests against these companies. Walt Disney is #1 in media - causing me to wonder if these are size and power rankings rather than CSR rankings.
The editors provide a long description of their methodology, and emphasize the objectivity of their techniques. However, their methods seem to favor companies with plenty of disclosures, policies and programs in place - and publicly disclosed. This favors large companies that have the resources to cover all these bases and a big reputation to protect. Ironically, it also favors companies that are reacting to bad press by putting good information out there and creating new programs to repair their reputations - and therefore could actually select for companies that are having problems.
How else could one explain the fact that Exxon-Mobil is not only on the Top Ten in the energy industry, but of 50+ companies it ranks #1 in environment, #4 in climate change, and #3 in human rights? Anyone familiar with Exxon's track record in these areas should be shocked, but apparently the company's public defensiveness on these issues is exactly what they need to succeed in the rankings.
Interestingly, companies who did well in the CRO rankings can contact the publication for high-quality reprints... a great way for the CRO to make money, I'm sure.