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How Awards and Rankings Increase Corporate Transparency and Demonstrate Company ValuesMarch 12, 2024

We’re nearly three full months into 2024 and already the year is testing corporations with new challenges. From escalating geopolitical turmoil on the backdrop of a global election year to the enactment of new policies that are leaving some states – like Florida and Alabama – divided, and workforce challenges that resulted in over 82,000 layoffs in January alone, the landscape is rife with uncertainty. What remains certain amid this volatility is that organizations must brace themselves for further change, prepare to be challenged on their values and navigate through turbulence to protect their reputations.

Awards and rankings can aid in this process by demonstrating corporate values and initiatives, encouraging transparency, identifying areas for improvement, and more.

A successful awards strategy is not about securing the most wins, but focusing on the most rigorous and credible programs that align with your business and communications objectives and can improve corporate reputation. Stakeholders are increasingly looking for clear markers of progress for their investment, particularly during tumultuous times.

With submission windows opening soon for many programs, the time is now to prioritize an awards and rankings strategy. Here’s why:

Awards and recognition help reveal what corporations value and where they are investing their resources (both time and money).

If your organization is designated as a ‘best place to work’ or ‘employer of choice,’ it signals to stakeholders that the company is prioritizing creating a positive experience for employees within its business strategy. That includes efforts like ensuring fair pay and offering expanded benefits and employee resource groups. Workplace accolades can lead to a rise in job applicants, increased interest from potential clients and partners, higher retention rates, positive media coverage and more.

  • According to Great Place to Work, one certified company said, “90% of our new hires said that Great Place to Work CertificationTM was the key deciding factor in selecting [our company]” for their new role.
  • According to the 2023 Job Seeker Survey Report, compiled based on survey responses from 1,500 job seekers, 67% of people answered, “Very important or important” when asked “How important is a company’s recognition and rewards program on the company’s website?”
  • According to Fast Company, being named among its Most Innovative Companies “helps with recruitment and retention of top talent” and can “boost product sales and marketing, as well as any fundraising and M&A efforts.”

Awards encourage corporate transparency and give stakeholders a line of sight into relevant data, policies and programs.

We’re increasingly seeing individuals demand “transparency and customized experiences tailored to their beliefs” as they “re-evaluate their values and the roles they play as consumers, employees and members of society.” How does this relate to awards and rankings?

  • Many rankings are informed by publicly available data, so by not making disclosures, a company risks not ranking or receiving a lower score than peers and competitors.
  • Increasingly, rankings include editorial content that digs deep – companies can no longer hide less-than-impressive stats in a 100-page corporate filing. Take advantage of narrative submissions and data verification processes to provide context for your results.
  • The people want transparency. According to JUST Capital, publisher of the annual list of America’s Most Just Companies, “Participants made it clear that if a company was not transparent, the public trusted the company less…if they had a choice between a more transparent and a less transparent company, they would do business with the more transparent company.”

Awards shed light on where companies are falling short.

These recognitions do not just celebrate achievements – they can also indicate areas for improvement. When a company sees its ranking drop – or if it falls off a list completely – it's a clear call for action. Leadership and line of business teams should explore the reasons for the drop and identify measures to rectify it. That means closely reviewing employee survey feedback, benefits and policies, and governance procedures for gaps.

Award criteria reflect what issues are most relevant to stakeholders in any given year.

As the issues that stakeholders care about and the challenges facing the C-suite evolve, so do the criteria that awards and rankings measure.

  • JUST Capital’s list ranks America’s largest publicly traded companies on the issues that matter most to the American public. Over the last two years, “workers” has risen to the top, with increasing weight, emphasizing the importance of things like fair pay and worker advancement
  • The Human Rights Campaign changed the criteria for its annual Corporate Equality Index in 2023, increasing the weight of “Equal health coverage for transgender individuals without exclusion for medically necessary care” from 10% of a company’s score to 25%.
  • In 2023, Ethisphere announced updates to the questionnaire that helps inform their ranking to reflect the most current best practices in areas like ESG materiality to align with evolving goals.

If you’re interested in learning more about the above and developing an awards and rankings strategy that could positively impact your company and its reputation, reach out to [email protected].