FAQs about our data and ratings for companies

This area of the site is designed to help companies find out more about the information we hold.

How do I find out more about the data you hold?

Send us an email via our contact form asking for a free copy of all the stories we hold on your company. Your email address must be at the company group in question and we ask that you put 'request for company data' in the subject line. We aim to respond to such requests within 7 days.

Do you ever contact companies for information?

Because our researchers are adding new stories every day from newspapers, magazines and websites, they cannot check every story with every company prior to publication. However, our researchers always operate in good faith, and our goal is to produce the best comparative ethical ratings possible given the resources available. We therefore encourage companies to check their own ratings periodically and to challenge our data if there are specific concerns: see How can I Complain below.

Our researchers formally contact companies via email prior to commencing research for our comparative product reports which appear in Ethical Consumer magazine and on this site. We may also make contact for one-off, or commissioned, pieces of research.

What questions do you ask?

When we contact companies we usually ask them for:

  • environmental reports 
  • CSR reports
  • supply chain management policies (for workers' rights);
  • animal testing policies;
  • policies on genetic modification. 
  • information pertinent to a specific market e.g. a timber policy for a company that manufactures furniture.

In addition we also usually ask for any information about product innovations which have been made to address social and/or environmental issues. 

We urge companies to display this kind of policy data on their websites so that it is freely available to anyone who wants to view it.

How can I improve my company's rating?

The easiest way for all companies to improve their rating is to identify where the company scores poorly on our system, then look at our category information on how we score each issue. 

Some ratings can be improved simply by improving your public reporting. This is particularly the case in our supply chain management and environmental reporting categories.

Many of our other ratings are based on identifying company activities in sectors targeted by campaigners as damaging. This would include companies involved in, for example, nuclear power, armaments manufacture, factory farming, unsustainable forestry or operating in oppressive regimes.

Clearly it is harder for a company to address this kind of issue in the short term.

We have however improved a company's rating in this kind of area where it has made a public, written commitment to phase out or eliminate problem activities by a fixed date in the future; (e.g. phase out PVC by 2018, cease making political donations with immediate effect).

Our scoring system is explained in more detail on the 'ratings system' pages.

How can I complain if I think a rating is wrong?

We are keen to hear from companies who think that the information we hold about them may be incorrect. Our detailed ethical category definitions may help explain a rating decision.

We ask that you address specific issues in writing by email to Rob Harrison or Tim Hunt. It is often best to annotate the existing stories in a word file. If you can point to evidence published by a third party which backs up your position this is even better and can permit us to act more quickly.

Please note that we normally treat such correspondence as 'for publication' and will either use your words to form a new story on the database (either a 'negating reference' or a 'corporate response').

If there is a genuine controversy over the facts we may need to consult the original source, which can take a little more time.

Please note companies are always rated as part of the larger corporate groups in which they sometimes belong. We do this to encourage group-wide responses to ethical issues rather than treating them as a niche opportunity.

If you wish to make general comments about the rating system, we are also keen to hear them. Please mark them 'Not for publication' if this is important, otherwise they may find their way into our consumer magazine. Your comments will feed into the regular reviews of the rating system which take place at ECRA.

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