In the past several years, systems for rating corporate sustainability regimes have burgeoned, and more than 100 ratings, rankings, and indices are now available for use by investors, consumers, and others interested in comparing one company to another based on its sustainability and corporate responsibility program. The sheer number of approaches and the lack of uniformity in criteria and metrics among them have led to considerable confusion. In an effort to introduce some consistency, the Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR), a nonprofit launched in 2011 by investing group Ceres and the Tellus Institute, has now issued for public comment a set of core principles that it hopes to use in accrediting sustainability ratings systems.
GISR views this effort as complementary to the disclosure focus of leading sustainability reporting frameworks like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, and the International Integrated Reporting Council, and bases its principles on best practices among the existing reporting programs. The principles include transparency, impartiality, comprehensiveness, balance, comparability, and other factors relating to both process and content. The principles are open for comment until July 31, 2013 (the document and feedback survey are available at http://ratesustainability.org/). This comment period is the first of three; ultimately, GISR sees the standard it seeks to develop as including principles, issues, and indicators (metrics).