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The accountability of the 100 largest companies. European companies forge ahead

Oil giant BP is the world’s most accountable company according to this year’s Accountability Rating™ 2007. The Rating also finds that European companies are forging ahead in building responsible business practices, with 18 global companies headquartered in Europe featured in the top 20.

The Accountability Rating™ is the only independent initiative to measure how the world’s biggest companies build responsible practices into the way they do business.

European companies dominate the top positions:
1) BP
2) Barclays
3) ENI
4) HSBC Holdings
5) Vodafone.

Produced by international think tank AccountAbility and CSR consultancy Csrnetwork, the Rating, now in its fourth year, rigorously assesses the information G-100 companies themselves put into the public domain, as well as data on actual social and environmental performance. Companies are rated on four domains: strategy, governance, engagement and impact.

Despite recent headlines, BP remains a leader in accountable practices. The company performs well with independent assurance statements, a good governance structure and a high-level of public disclosure and has been progressive in multi-stakeholder initiatives like the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the US Climate Action Partnership.

With oil, banking and motor companies all scoring highly in the Rating, Mark Line, director of Csrnetwork, says:

“This shows that sectors in the global spotlight face very powerful incentives to develop robust accountability systems.”

Yet the recent fines imposed upon BP show that even with world-class management systems in place, they need to be properly exercised across all a company’s operations.

“Global 100 corporations are rightly under scrutiny at present, with the situation in Burma to sub-prime lending, oil spills and health and safety disasters,” says Dr. Simon Zadek, CEO of AccountAbility.

“The bottom line is a small but significant increase in accountability performance. Companies of all sizes, in all regions and across all sectors still face significant accountability challenges.”

Other key findings

  • An increase in the accountability of the G-100 (revenues over $10 trillion) with average performance rising 3.6% since 2006.
  • European companies are the most accountable with a small sample of Asian companies outperforming US firms.
  • Retail and FMCG sectors under-perform, suggesting that some global brands may need to invest more in strategy, systems and engagement as consumers increasingly hold them to account.

See the Accountability Rating™ 2007 in full at http://www.accountabilityrating.com