I just received a press release from Covalence alerting me that the Geneva-based ethical rankings company is “publishing today its quarterly ethical reputation ranking, giving the best ranked companies as well as those companies which have made the most progress in the second quarter of 2007.” As recently as yesterday I wrote about one of the companies mentioned in the report, Wal-Mart. And have in the past written about others.
What does it mean to have the best reported performance?
Only the positive news about the company is measured. Therefore, negative news doesn’t count against the rating. It’s an interesting metric and an important one, as it reflects good works, products, services and praise. But it isn’t as critical a measure as are Best EthicalQuote Score and Best EthicalQuote Progress.
Hm. It seems like this is partially a measure of the PR departments of both proponents and critics. Is it really all that telling?
It is hard to say for sure, but in my research for my upcoming book, Lead With Your Heart, Covalence appeared several times as a source for ranking ethical company behavior. As one who has worked in a few PR departments, honestly, we aren’t that successful in creating positive news. We are far better at putting out fires and making product and new hire announcements.
It seems to me that companies are not ethical or unethical – the people who run them are or are not. I know it is hard but I try not to treat companies as if they were living entities. If we are going to rate the ethical behavior of the people in a company then they have to be identified. At that point we are open to lawsuits I suppose and the whole thing is to risky to take on. So, what then is the value of this rating system? Pats on the back for everyone and trophies just for showing up.
Just a rant on Saturday night…