HomeNorth AmericaInsightsAwards & Rankings: Why Being on the List Matters for Your Company
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It’s not “awards season” just in the entertainment world. The next few months are one of the busiest times of year for companies to apply to major awards and rankings disclosing their policies, initiatives, and innovations related to the workplace, diversity and inclusion, environmental sustainability, community development, and more. Companies are also taking a close look at their results from major lists published in the early months of 2023, including JUST Capital’s America’s Most JUST Companies, Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies, and the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index. These lists include some of the most recognized and influential businesses in the U.S. and globally. With increased stakeholder and investor input, companies are getting recognized for what they’re doing for their employees, customers, clients, and communities, and in turn, improving their reputation and supporting their business goals.

Awards and rankings can take a lot of work – many of them require heavy data and essay submissions that necessitate a robust internal team or outside support. Some indices and rankings are determined regardless of a company’s contributions to the evaluation process, but you can still improve your results by participating in a data verification process.

So, is the investment worth it? With a strategic, focused approach, yes, awards and rankings can positively affect your business. Here’s why:

They provide opportunities to share your accomplishments with a large audience.

Awards and rankings are a great place to show what your company values and how you’re achieving your mission, vision, and business goals. It’s also an opportunity to set yourself apart from your competitors and explicitly show your leadership in a specific area – whether it be fair wages, environmental commitments, or patent innovation.

In some cases, the numbers can tell the story (e.g., workforce demographics or new products released), but narrative submissions give companies a chance to share information on in-depth success stories, how new policies have affected your business, innovative partnerships, and more, that go beyond your standard press release, social media post, or annual report. As the public and other stakeholders are increasingly looking to the companies they support and invest in for proof of progress, awards and rankings are another opportunity to disclose information – especially through top-tier, reputable organizations with a national and global reach, like Fortune, Fast Company, Forbes, Human Rights Campaign, and more. The accompanying media coverage attached to these results can provide an additional boost in reach.

Participation helps to build your reputation – and your workforce.

As noted above, stakeholders want the companies they support and invest in to make progress on a variety of important global issues, from combatting climate change and decreasing racial and economic disparities to developing world-changing products and services and hiring a diverse workforce. JUST Capital’s research shows that Americans believe companies should be “good corporate citizens” and do their best to make a positive impact on society, so it makes sense that the companies topping this year’s JUST 100 list are considered the best at paying a fair, living wage, creating jobs, protecting worker health and safety, minimizing pollution, and more. As Great Place to Work CEO Michael C. Bush noted in his 2022 editorial, “[employees] are demanding to be supported and seen—their full selves and their full lives—by their employer.”

A high ranking from a recognizable award organization or evaluator can lead to top-tier media coverage and more interest from customers, clients, job candidates, and partners, boosting your credibility and your brand.

On the other hand, a low ranking, or worse, a call-out by the organizer for non-disclosures or troubling data or circumstances, could end up being harmful for your brand, allowing competitors and peers to jump ahead of you in perception. It’s one reason we recommend participating in opportunities to verify or submit additional data to a ranking organizer, because it could mean the difference between a passable result and criticism from the media and beyond.

Talent and recruitment teams frequently use award results to raise awareness of culture, remind current employees of what companies have to offer and, ultimately, attract new talent. Work with your HR and talent acquisitions teams to determine which awards and rankings programs may be best based on your people goals.

How to determine your awards & rankings approach.

The awards landscape is vast and deep, and it can be overwhelming to decide where to focus. But the first place to start is with your business objectives. Once you’ve laid out your goals (growth, financial, brand, people, etc.), you can figure out which awards and rankings make sense to pursue. There are many things to consider when identifying your list, such as credibility, reach, media coverage and sentiment, staff and budget, sales growth, and more. If you’ve been in the game for a while, don’t stop asking what’s next. Where can you lead in new ways if you’ve been at the top of the pack for years? How can you highlight other areas of your work that haven’t gotten as much play? Is there a new award or ranking to which you can submit your work?

Above all, awards and rankings should not be an afterthought – they should be connected to the broader plan to position your company as leaders in your chosen industry and beyond. They are not just an opportunity to slap a seal or badge to your website with no context; awards and their accompanying stories and details are now scrutinized by job seekers, media outlets, investors, partners, and customers. When you move the needle in your business and make an impact on society, use awards and recognition to tell your story, and you will see increased brand value, an improved reputation, and a more stable workforce.