The value of transparency

Dan Bross, Senior Director of Citizenship, Microsoft.

Whether I’m engaging colleagues inside Microsoft or speaking externally I’m a consistent advocate for the value of transparency. That’s why I’m particularly pleased by two external recognitions that Microsoft received this week. First, Microsoft was among the companies included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), a set of companies selected for their performance against economic, environmental and social criteria. The rating firm Sustainable Asset Management which compiles the index in conjunction with Dow Jones puts a heavy premium on disclosure and performance data in selecting companies in the index.

We also topped the charts of the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Disclosure Leadership Index, tying for first place with UPS among the S&P 500 with a disclosure score of 99 out of a possible 100. Among the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the world, only Bayer and Nestle scored higher with a perfect 100, which we congratulate them for achieving. ­

These particular ratings come among many. The think tank SustainAbility conducted an inventory of corporate responsibility ratings two years ago which found 108 separate ratings, of which only 21 had existed in 2000. The Carbon Disclosure Project rankings and DJSI are, in my mind, two of the most credible as their rankings are data driven and the analysis extremely thorough.

With the growth in ratings and corporate responsibility rankings, we are sometimes asked whether these rankings matter. Like most of my colleagues in the field of corporate responsibility I can get frustrated with new rankings that ask for the same information as others in slightly different ways and competing company rankings that sometimes produce wildly different results. Overall though, we appreciate the interest in our work these rankings represent. Rankings provide an important tool to help us benchmark our progress against stakeholders’ expectations and to help those stakeholders evaluate companies performance.

We are proud of what we have accomplished while quickly acknowledging there is more progress to be made. I’m certain there’s another rating coming soon that will both recognize our areas of strength and point to more things we could be doing.

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